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Audible intruder alarms are widely used to protect property from
unauthorised entry. Unfortunately, they may be triggered by a fault
in the system causing a noise problem for nearby neighbours,
especially if it occurs frequently. Complaints are usually due to
the duration of the alarm rather than the actual volume.
The government has produced a code of practice to try to reduce
the incidence of nuisance caused by these alarms. The code states
that alarms should be fitted with an automatic cut-out device. Such
a device stops the ringing automatically after a period of 20
minutes from the activation of the system. The code also says that
the householder should inform the council of the installation of
any alarm and the names and addresses of two key-holders who should
be well versed in operating and silencing the alarm at short
Medway residents who have an audible intruder alarm fitted to
their property should log details of reliable key-holders with the
council's environmental protection team. This is not a legal
obligation but can save time and expense if the alarm goes off in
These details are kept on a confidential database and are only
used if an alarm is reported as sounding. The details will not be
passed to any third party without consent.
What to do
- Complete the
online key-holders form or contact environmental protection at
the address below.
- Ensure the alarm has a 20 minute cut-out and is serviced on a
- When taking over an existing alarm, have it serviced to ensure
it is working correctly.
If no key-holder is available and it is not known if the
householder is due home soon, a council officer will visit to
assess the noise for nuisance. If the noise from the alarm is
deemed to be a statutory nuisance, formal action will be taken by
This will involve the serving of a noise abatement notice under
the provisions of the Environmental
Protection Act 1990. If the notice is not complied
with, i.e. the sounder turned off within 20 minutes, the
officer will arrange for an alarm company to disable the alarm from
the outside. This may mean that the property is no longer covered
by the alarm until it is reset.
Any costs incurred by the council will be recovered from the
owner. Medway Council prefers not to take this kind of action and
if owners of alarmed premises can register a key-holder who can be
contacted at all times, this could save money and be less
irritating to neighbours.
The alarm is there to protect property but if it sounds often,
it may be ignored and is therefore not doing its intended job.
What to do if an alarm is going off
- If you suspect a false entry to the property, contact the
- Talk to neighbours to see if there are any key-holders and when
the owner is expected to return.
- If the alarm continues after 20 minutes, contact the council's
Environmental Protection Team at the address below.
Staff will check the database to see if a key-holder is known.
If they are, the council will contact them to disable the
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