Toronto police now require evidence before responding to home security alarm calls

Toronto police will no longer respond to burglar alarms unless they get a confirmation of criminal activity or a threat to personal safety.

Force says 97 per cent of the time a home security alarm is triggered, it's a false alarm

Toronto police now require verification before responding to home alarms. This is in response to a finding that 97 per cent of alarm activations reported were false in 2016. (Getty Images)

Toronto police will no longer respond to burglar alarms unless they get a confirmation of criminal activity or a threat to personal safety.

The new requirement, implemented Monday, is partly a reaction to an internal police review that found 97 per cent of home security system activations in 2016 were false alarms.

"With 97 per cent being false, that's 97 per cent of the time that we could have been potentially responding to true emergencies," Sgt. Wendy Drummond, alarm response coordinator for Toronto police, told CBC Toronto.

To add to that, about 75 per cent of all false alarms are caused by the user, according to the Canadian Alarm and Security Association.

Before Monday's change, two "fully armed officers" would attend an alarm call at a home if the resident simply asked their security company to send them, Drummond explained.

But now, "if there is no evidence ... we will no longer respond," she said.

Of course, if the resident calls 911 directly police will attend, Drummond added.

The move is part of the Toronto Police Service's modernization plan, called The Way Forward, which aims to optimize the use of police resources and technology while having officers where they're needed most. 

"What we want to do is increase our efficiency and the effectiveness of our police response," said Drummond.

According to the new rules, police will only respond to an alarm if it is verified through:

  • An audio device
  • A video device
  • Multiple zone activations
  • An eyewitness on the scene

Panic alarms are exempt from the new rules.

In light of the change, police are asking alarm users to contact their security company to discuss an action plan for all possible response options.

With files from Linda Ward