Nfld. & Labrador

Too many false security alarms, says deputy police chief

Ab Singleton, the deputy chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, is raising the alarm over false alarms from security systems.
False alarms from home and business alarm systems are taking up a lot of time and resources, says the RNC. (CBC)

The deputy chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is raising the alarm over false alarms from security systems.

Ab Singleton said in 2012 police investigated nearly 12,000 false alarms in the St. John's area,  almost a quarter of all calls the force handled that year.

"It has a dramatic impact on our service delivery," said Singleton.

Each of those 12,000 calls goes to the RNC's Communications Centre, where a dispatcher takes the call, creates a file, communicates with the alarm company and moves the call through the RNC system. 

And that, said Singleton, is a waste of resources.

"Because while an officer is responding to that call, it takes him away from other enforcement activities or crime prevention activities."

Proper training needed

Singleton said the biggest problem with false alarms has come from a small number of businesses which have not trained their employees to properly use the security system, or have not replaced malfunctioning systems.

"The highest frequency for 2012 was 81 activations for a single address," said Singleton. "And just looking at the top six, they accounted for 344 alarms."

"The people either owning or operating the system or the business does not take the alarm, or the work that we do, seriously."

Fire department also dealing with false alarms

The RNC has not been alone in dealing with large numbers of false alarms.

An official with the St. John's Regional Fire Department said in 2012, 94 per cent of residential alarms and 89 per cent of commercial alarms ended up as wild goose chases for their staff. 

Police said the problem is getting worse, with more calls coming in, and the percentage of false alarms rising.

They said an explosion of new homes, pre-wired for alarm-systems, has been partly to blame.