Security alarm systems can be an effective crime prevention tool by:

  • making a property less attractive to would-be intruders
  • alerting people in the area or security/police about any suspicious activity.

However, security alarm systems should never be regarded as a substitute for good physical security but rather an addition to it.

It is also important to understand that there are sometimes unanticipated issues involved with installing security alarms. For example:

  • frequent false alarms may mean neighbours ignore ‘real’ activations
  • volunteers or employees responding to alarms may put themselves in danger by confronting intruders.

    Key questions

    Before choosing a security alarm as your crime prevention solution, an overall security assessment is recommended. The following questions should be an initial prompt:

    • What is the problem you are trying to address?
    • When is the problem occurring? Is there any pattern? What do your local police say?
    • Is there any other way the problem could be tackled? Is a security alarm system alone likely to address the problem?
    • Will the benefits of an alarm outweigh the costs involved (including maintenance and monitoring)?

    Other important considerations

    • Ensure that your system complies with the relevant Australian Standards. You should only use security equipment installers registered (External link) in Victoria under the Private Security Act.
    • How will you safely respond to alarm activations? Is a security monitoring firm proposed or will volunteers/employees respond?
    • While grant funding cannot be used towards ongoing monitoring costs, these are recognised positively as a co-contribution to any project.
    • If the alarm system isn’t monitored by a security firm, developing a risk management plan can ensure the personal safety of employees or volunteers responding to call outs. Read up on your obligations as an employer under the Work Health & Safety Act 2011.
    • Ensuring adequate training and detailed instructions for users will ensure the alarm system is used properly.
    • Obtain several itemised quotes for the system (and any monitoring) from different suppliers.
    • Be aware of the impact of alarm activation and the need for consultation with any neighbours.
    • Check with your local council if there are any laws relating to noise pollution and alarms sounding for a period of time unattended.
    • Ensure plans are in place for regular testing and maintenance of the system (helps avoid false alarm activations).
    • Signs indicating an alarm system is operating can act as a deterrent and should be displayed.

    Additional resources

    Further information on alarms can be found on the Victoria Police (External link) website:

    Author
    Community Crime Prevention
    Publisher
    Department of Justice and Regulation
    Date of Publication