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25/08/2010   Intruder Alarm Signalling Types – keeping up!


Recent changes in the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) policy requirements states

that the police will only respond to a security system activation either as a result of a confirmed

activation through a remotely monitored security system i.e. that two separate signalling systems

using different signalling paths must be provided if the police are expected to attend a line cut. It

is therefore required that dual path signalling is installed.

This should not be confused with the subject of sequential activation of the intruder detection equipment forming part of your alarm installation which must also provide two activations in order to produce a confirmed signal to comply with ACPO policy.

In general a Jewellers premises must be protected by an Intruder Alarm system which has Grade 4 signalling.

Many installations installed in recent years are now in need of updating. It is, perhaps, understandable that ACPO’s requirements are perceived negatively at a time when many businesses are trying to reduce expenditure and therefore are not ready to upgrade their Intruder Alarm.

There are now a number of different products on the market resulting in the availability of competitively priced dual path signalling.

Dual path signalling means you are able to manage your Intruder Alarm more easily. For example a line fault will prompt your ARC to call the key holder to report an “unconfirmed” activation which means you have been advised and it is your responsibility and duty to investigate and to check out your premises. With single path signalling your premises will remain unprotected because the means of communication between the ARC and your premises has been cut. With dual path technology the secondary signal continues to provide a means of communication between the ARC and your premises. If the reason for the line fault is because it has been cut by thieves the secondary signal will alert the ARC and result in a confirmed activation.

Types of signalling available for high theft risk premises such as Jewellers:

DualCom GPRS

Essentially DualCom is an intruder alarm signalling device that uses both the Vodafone Network and/or Internet Protocol (IP) Path to transmit signals to the ARC. 

The primary signalling path is the GPRS radio connection with a back-up telephone connection and/or IP Path via a broadband line. This ensures that a signal can be transmitted via the back-up path should there be a fault or damage caused to primary GPRS connection. It is important to check the Vodafone signal strength in your area to get the full potential out of this signalling method.

DualCom GPRS is provided in grades 2, 3 and 4. 

The polling times (signalling times) are as follows:-

Grade 2 - polling frequency and fault reporting when both signalling paths fail simultaneously (i.e.

when an intruder is able to enter the premises and smash the alarm controls so that both signals

fail at the same time) – 24 hours

Grade 3 - Fault reporting if both signalling paths fail simultaneously - 1 hour.

Grade 4 - Fault reporting if both signalling paths fail simultaneously - 3 minutes.

As you can see from the above a grade 2 and 3 systems are not secure and therefore

grade 4 should be installed.


Changing grades of DualCom GPRS is a simple operation carried out by the central station for a small charge.   

BT RedCare and RedCare GSM:

BT RedCare is a single path system that monitors an alarm over a dedicated BT phone line, alerting the Alarm Receiving Centre within seconds.  The phone line is a continuously monitored service and from the first exchange/scanner the system is duplicated and diversely routed via a dedicated line to two host computers. From these the signal is sent directly via a dedicated line to the central station. The alarm information is transmitted rapidly at speech frequency when an event occurs.

With RedCare line cuts are indicated at the central station.

Unlike a digital communicator no dialing is involved, rather an electronic series of pulses are regularly transmitted via the phone line to the ARC. Should the phone line be cut no regular pulse is received at the ARC and a line cut condition is signaled resulting in police response.

However, since changes have been made to the ACPO policy which requires further

communication after a line cut, conventional RedCare, as a stand alone system is no longer compliant. However, with a GSM radio connection, it is a Grade 4 signalling system. The secondary GSM path provides maximum protection and ensures alarm activations can continue to get through to the ARC, even if the phone line has been cut or damaged. 

It is strongly recommended that for additional line integrity the customer should specify and arrange with BT "Total Care" service GUARANTEED 4 HOUR response to line faults. You will need to contact your local BT Sales Office for further details in this respect.

IP Monitored Alarm Systems:

These will take over from other forms of signalling in the next few years. The German test house, VdS, (http://www.vds.de/), have graded a system and BRE (http://www.bre.co.uk/) in the UK are about to grade a system.

IP alarm systems are connected to the ARC via a single broadband path. Therefore it is required that they are backed-up with a GPRS connection. The overall grade to be Grade 4 with the signalling ideally tested and graded by BRE, VdS or one of the other more reputable test houses. Subject to this these systems will be acceptable and probably a lot cheaper than RedCARE GSM and DualCom GPRS.

There are a number of IP systems available e.g. Webway 2424,

Webway 2424 offers a dual path system that monitors your alarm over the internet, i.e. using your broadband. The ARC is alerted within seconds if there is a fault or alarm activation. The system is backed up with a secondary mobile signalling path that is provided through a number of different service providers to supply maximum coverage wherever you are based. Alarm monitoring over a broadband line e.g. Webway 2424 offers a comprehensive monitoring service and system maintenance. All paths are continuously monitored with any single path failure detected and reported within 3 minutes. A simultaneous dual path failure is detected and reported in less than 6 minutes.

A minimum of Grade 4 signalling is required for high risk premises such as Jewellers,  even if the alarm system itself is graded below Grade 4. 


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