Snoop squad on the prowl
Posted on August 1, 2007
If you've had a burglar alarm installed but you haven't told the council, today's the day it could start costing you dearly.
Council officers will today start touring the district on the lookout for unregistered burglar alarms - with fines of up to £1,000 on the cards.
Anyone who has an alarm fitted but hasn't told South Beds District Council who their keyholders are will soon face hefty fines as part of a controversial alarm notification policy.
The council claims the measure will make it easier to silence endlessly sounding alarms, but critics have dubbed it an invasion of privacy.
Under the scheme council envirocrime officers will have contact details for keyholders at their fingertips, so that if an alarm sounds it can be switched off quickly.
From today members of the envirocrime unit will be keeping an eye out for alarm boxes on the outside of homes.
If they spot an alarm that isn't registered, they will contact the owner giving them seven days to hand over contact details for their keyholders.
If this isn't done, owners will face an £80 on-the-spot fine, which will rise to £1,000 if it's not paid within two weeks.
When plans were unveiled for the new alarm notification area last year, this newspaper was swamped with letters from readers worried about the impact it would have.
One correspondent dubbed it a "sledgehammer to crack a nut", and Eaton Bray campaigner Alan Woolridge mounted a petition calling on alarm owners to withhold the information.
His petition read: "For security reasons the only persons who should know of the arrangement are the property owner and the keyholder.
"To have such details on the database, regardless of the fact that data will be maintained in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, does nothing to inspire confidence."
But yesterday a council spokeswoman announced that 4,578 alarms have been registered in South Beds.
Councillor David McVicar, portfolio holder for the environment, said: "This service means that our neighbours no longer have to endure the possibility of constant noise of alarms while we are on holiday or away.
"It is a simple matter to register your alarm, giving yourself and your neighbours peace of mind."
Source: Dave Burke, Dunstable Gazette, 1 August 2007
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