Now you can log on and tell PM your alarm fears
Posted on August 15, 2007
An online petition has been launched to protest about the district council's controversial alarm notification policy.
Burglar alarm owners are now required to pass details of their keyholders to South Beds District Council, or face fines of up to £1,000.
The council claims it will help to silence loud alarms quickly, and there are already cases where keyholder information has been used to cut short the misery that constantly sounding alarms can cause.
But as reported by the Gazette last week, the measure has sparked concerns about security.
Eaton Bray protestor Alan Woolridge has vowed to battle against the order, and this week he has launched a petition on Gordon Brown's 10 Downing Street website calling for a rethink.
South Beds is the first area to bring in the measure using legislation from the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, but a number of local authorities are keeping a close eye on the initiative.
Mr Woolridge is calling on the government to have another look at the legislation before other authorities follow suit.
His petition reads: "Homeowners in South Beds whose property has a burglar alarm are being legally forced to pass details of a keyholder (name; address; phone number) to the local authority.
"Other councils will follow. This protest is about the creation of databases that if allowed to continue will identify properties that have, and by exception, do not have burglar alarms.
"Front door key security is personal and the whereabouts of any `emergency' keys are confidential too."
The petition urges householders not to submit keyholder information, or to withdraw it if they have already handed it over.
When the alarm notification area was announced last year, it prompted a number of letters to this newspaper voicing concerns.
Enforcement of the policy started this month, and since we reported it the Gazette has received many letters and phone calls on the subject.
This week one correspondent wrote: "Having worked with IT systems since the late 1960s I know it's inevitable that information on the keyholder register will get out, no matter that the council is `fierce' with its data protection duties to prevent data being misused.
"Information will get out either because someone breaks in, or because a loophole has inadvertently been left in the system, or because a South Beds District Council employee is suborned into revealing information from the database."
- The petition can be found at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ALARMING
- The website claims that whenever a serious petition collects 200 or more signatures, officials at Downing Street will ensure a response is given to the issues raised.
Source: Dave Burke, Dunstable Gazette, 15 August 2007
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