The controversial alarm notification area policy in South Beds will not impact on home insurance policies, according to the district council.....
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Alarm bells fear allayed

Posted on January 12, 2007

The controversial alarm notification area policy in South Beds will not impact on home insurance policies, according to the district council.

This article was published in January 2007. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Since the Gazette reported that the scheme - which means burglar alarm owners have to hand over contact details for their keyholders or face a fine - was being introduced, readers have voiced concerns about the impact that disclosing the information will have on their cover.

The measure was introduced to cut down on endlessly ringing alarms and ensure that if a home alarm goes off it can be shut down quickly. South Beds District Council's Envirocrime Unit, which is overseeing the policy, has claimed a victory this week after it used keyholder contact details to quickly silence an alarm in Kensworth.

But Gazette reader Malcolm Dodd said: "Before submitting confidential details regarding the security of one's home to a third party, householders should consult their insurance company.

"They may have a very different view of the information requested becoming available to a third party, let alone recorded on a central database.

"Are South Beds District Council, with their official responsibility for this new regulation, prepared to accept liability resulting from possible non-compliance of the terms of the householder's insurance policy?"

The council has been quick to say that Mr Dodd's concerns are unfounded.

A spokeswoman for South Beds District Council said: "We did check with insurance companies before we introduced the scheme and it won't affect home insurance cover."

And one of the country's largest insurers has backed them.

A spokeswoman for Norwich Union said the company had no concerns about disclosing information to the council, and said the only real worry would be keyholders not re-setting alarms when they leave.

She said: "There's no insurance issue on disclosure grounds, however we would be concerned if somebody came round when an alarm was sounding and disabled it permanently"

She also said that if the information was abused and keyholders were targeted by thieves, it would not affect insurance claims.

"We will pay claims without any forcible entry," she said.

As reported over the past few weeks, a petition against the measure - which could see alarm owners who fail to register keyholder details fined a fixed notice of £80, increasing to £1,000 if they fail to pay within two weeks - has been mounted because of confidentiality concerns.

Organiser Alan Woolridge has vowed to continue his protests until the council agrees to a rethink. "Everyone I've spoken to is up in arms about it," he said.

But council officers have highlighted two contrasting cases which show that the policy can be effective.

The owners of one home in Barton hadn't registered their details with the council. So when their alarm sounded during the festive period neighbours had to endure the loud ringing for a long time because Envirocrime officers couldn't obtain a court order to gain entry at that time of year.

But when an alarm went off at a home in Kensworth, Envirocrime officers were able to get it switched off quickly as the owners had registered their keyholder details.

They contacted the keyholder, who swiftly silenced the alarm.

"It shows that it does work," said a council spokeswoman.

Source: Dunstable Gazette, 10 January 2007

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