Advice for people with intruder alarms

The Environmental Protection Act 1990, Part III requires local authorities to investigate complaints of noise nuisance and requires that they serve noise abatement notices where they find statutory nuisances. It is possible that an audible intruder alarm could cause such a nuisance.

The act also allows private individuals to take action through a Magistrates' court.

Non-compliance with a noise abatement notice served by the local authority or an order made by a court may result in a fine of up to £5,000 in respect of residential premises or £20,000 in respect of commercial.

In addition a local authority can also carry out works to abate the nuisance and recover the costs of those works from the person responsible.

The government have issued a code of practice called the Control of Noise (Code of Practice on Noise from Audible Intruder Alarms) Order 1981 (SI 1829).

The code gives guidance on reducing unnecessary disturbance caused by audible intruder alarms.

It is not, in itself, an offence not to comply with the code.

However, in legal proceedings regard may be had to whether the code has been complied with - firstly in order to prove a nuisance but also, importantly from the perspective of those responsible for alarms, to defend an action. It is therefore important.

The code of practice recommends that alarms should be silenced by an automatic cut-out device within 20 minutes (flashing lights do not fall under the scope of the above act or code of practice).

The code also says that the alarm holder should notify the local authority of the existence of the alarm and notify the police of two or more alarm key-holders.

The key-holders should be well versed in operating and silencing the alarm, be telephone subscribers and be able to get to your property relatively quickly.

Where no automatic cut-out device is fitted the code recommends one or other key holder should always turn out and silence the alarm within 20 minutes.

Notification to the police is achieved via the Surpol keyholder database website. This service costs £1.00 per month.

Council database

Alternatively the council keeps a database of key-holders for use when following up complaints of alarms sounding.

You may provide your key-holder details for this database free of charge by downloading the keyholder database registration form below.

Please print it out and complete, sign and return the form. This service is free of charge.