Home Security Systems: Alarms & CCTV Cameras

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When it comes to home security systems, here's what you need to know:

  • Burglars target unoccupied homes with unlocked doors and windows.
  • WIDE security measures (lock doors/windows, use timed lights, install sensor lights) can deter burglars.
  • Burglar alarm systems (wired/wireless, bell-only/monitored) can contact you or the police.
  • Remote-accessible CCTV systems can monitor your property.
  • Motion sensor lights and light timers can deter burglars.
  • Neighbourhood Watch schemes can increase visibility and deter burglars.

If a man's home is his castle, then that castle had better have good defences to deter invaders.

Keeping the doors and windows of your home or business locked is a great start, but additional ‘defences' such as security alarms and CCTV cameras can significantly deter burglars from attempting to enter the property.

In mediaeval castles here in the UK and in continental Europe, turrets, crenellations, machicolations, and all other sorts of defences could physically ward off any attempts to storm the walls.

For the modern home or business owner, these may be just a tad impractical; fortunately, modern technology can achieve similar goals without the need for boiling oil or other booby traps!

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Table of contents:

Alarm & CCTV Cameras

Home security systems: Why protecting your property is important

According to CrimeStoppers, a burglary occurs in the UK every 40 seconds.

Being vigilant and protecting your property not only helps to deter would-be burglars, but also strengthens safety within neighbourhoods and communities when more property owners take measures to increase security.

In addition to acting as a deterrent, security systems such as burglar alarms also provide property owners with peace of mind that if anyone does attempt a burglary, the owner and/or police can be notified immediately and dispatched to the address.

In the case of CCTV, footage of criminals can assist in tracking them down and bringing them to justice.

Think WIDE to protect against burglary

Before getting into specific methods of securing your home or business, it is first important to consider an overall security system and how the different elements synergise with one another to create safe and secure homes and businesses.

Neighbourhood Watch offers burglary prevention tips according to a system called WIDE(N):

  • Windows: lock your windows and keep them closed unless you're present.
  • Interior: use timed lights to create the illusion that someone is home, even if you are not there.
  • Doors: keep your doors securely locked with deadbolts or other security locks. Consider BS3621 compliant mortice locks or SS312 Diamond Standard locks for Euro cylinder door locks.
  • Exteriors: use sensor lights for the exterior of your property to illuminate any areas where movement may be detected.
  • Neighbours: good, trustworthy, and vigilant neighbours can witness and deter burglaries. Join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme if available in your community.

WIDE(N) helps homeowners (and business owners) cover the main areas of home security by focussing on the main risk vectors for burglaries in the first place.

The vast majority of burglars in the UK attempt to enter by the door (around three-quarters of all burglaries) whilst the remainder try to enter via window (around a quarter).

Taking into consideration the interior and exterior (and the presence of neighbours, as applicable) can also deter burglars from approaching the property in the first place.

Research from Nottingham Trent University found that homes with WIDE security in place were 49 times more protected against burglary than those without. Interestingly, homes with just an alarm system as home security actually raised the risk of burglary. In brief, WIDE security measures have been shown to dramatically increase the ability of property owners to deter burglars.

What attracts burglars?

The obvious answer as to what attracts burglars is that they're looking for valuables to pilfer from your home or business.

More specifically, burglars tend to be attracted to properties that have the following characteristics:

  • a home or business that appears to be visibly unoccupied;
  • a property that lacks any visible/audible security measures;
  • doors/windows left unlocked, open, or otherwise easy to unlock;
  • places that are poorly lit where the burglar can commit the crime unseen.

The cartoon caricature of a burglar all dressed in black with a raccoon mask tiptoeing along with a bag full of lockpicking equipment is quite far from reality.

Most burglaries in the UK are from opportunist burglars. In other words, a burglar tends to be - more often than not - someone passing by a property and noticing that the door or window may be unlocked or even wide open.

This is important because most burglars don't come prepared.

They don't generally premeditate their crime and as such, if caught by an alarm system or if met with a strong and secure lock, will flee the scene in a panic.

Home security alarm systems

One of the most common and reliable methods of bolstering home and business security is with a burglar alarm system (security alarm).

There are many choices on the market, so it's important to assess your needs, your budget, and the reliability of a specific brand or model before investing in one.

Below is some general information on burglar alarm system types available in the UK:

Wired vs wireless home security systems

One of the first considerations for installing a burglar alarm is whether to choose a wired or a wireless alarm system.

Wired home security systems

Wired systems naturally need to be wired to your power supply, but they tend to be more affordable and are not reliant on batteries in order to operate.

Wireless home security systems

Conversely, wireless systems offer greater flexibility in terms of relocation and can be cheaper to install but more expensive to purchase.

They also need batteries in order to operate.

Bell-only alarm systems

The most simple and straightforward burglar alarm system is a bell-only alarm.

These systems emit a loud ringing to deter burglars and to alert the property owner and neighbours to suspicious activity.

A simple bell-only alarm system can cost as low as £100 to purchase and a qualified security consultant or locksmith can help install and calibrate the system.

Monitored alarm systems

Whereas bell-only alarms can be seen as "local" alarms, monitored alarms (aka dialler alarms) provide property owners with many alternatives to a localised audible alarm.

There are many different types of monitored alarm system available on the market, and a qualified locksmith specialising in security systems can help homeowners and business owners install, calibrate, and test these types of alarms.

Monitored alarms have the ability to directly contact you or a nominated keyholder in the event of an attempted burglary, or in other words whenever the alarm is triggered, e.g. a door or window opening.

The two main categories of monitored alarms are GSM-based diallers and speech diallers.

GSM diallers are connected via a loaded SIM card and therefore require a reasonably good mobile connection.

Speech diallers connect directly to your landline (phone socket). These systems can cost £150+ to purchase.

Modern monitored alarm systems are going more towards smart home systems that integrate multiple security elements such as sensor lights, CCTV cameras, and more.

Smart systems have the added benefits of mobile phone and tablet integration, but they tend to be more expensive.

High-end security alarms can cost up to around £1,000 to purchase and many have contracts for monthly/annual payments, as we'll discuss below.

Monitored contract systems

For high-end security for homes, tenement blocks, and businesses, monitored contracts give property owners more options for security.

There are two basic types of monitoring contract, both of which are usually charged by monthly or annual payments.

Both types of alarm operate on a similar basis to the above monitored alarms, i.e. you or a nominated keyholder will be notified if the alarm is triggered.

The first is called keyholder monitoring, whereby the alarm company (e.g. Honeywell, ADT, or Yale) is notified if the alarm is set off.

The company will then contact you immediately so that you can take further action.

The second is known as police monitoring.

These systems tend to respond whenever two or more sensors are triggered and contact authorities so that they can dispatch police to your property.

It is important to note that there is no guarantee that the police will come to your property, particularly if they have other, more pressing matters to attend to.

Police generally have a three-strikes policy when it comes to false alarms: three false alarms and they simply will not respond to any further alarms being set off at your property.

Remote-Accessible CCTV Systems

Whether used alone or in conjunction with a home or business security system, a CCTV system can help property owners monitor their premises and to deter burglars from attempting to approach the property in the first place.

It used to be the case that many decades ago, CCTV technology was prohibitively costly for the average homeowner.

A lot has changed since then and the price has come down substantially; so much so that it is quite reasonable for the average homeowner to install a personal CCTV.

The same applies to most businesses, although businesses that welcome the public (e.g. corner shops, restaurants) should also ensure that it is legally permissible to use CCTV on the premises.

For example, refer to GDPR UK for more specific regulations on recording employees via CCTV surveillance.

CCTV offers homeowners many benefits, such as remote viewing via mobile phone with Internet access or through a smart TV, integration with alarm systems to notify property owners of what's going on if the alarm is triggered, and acting as a deterrent to many would-be burglars.

It is important to keep a few things in mind when considering a home CCTV system.

Firstly, you may feel inclined to directly confront an intruder if you can see them via CCTV.

Refrain from doing so and call 999 in an emergency.

Furthermore, it is essential that your CCTV is professionally installed by a qualified security contractor or locksmith in order to guarantee an effective response from the police.

Ropey DIY projects will not suffice!

A last note on CCTV as a means of securing your property: it has not been shown in studies to deter burglars and as such does not appear on police-approved home security surveys as a meaningful metric for home security.

Motion Sensor Lighting

Since burglars tend to be attracted to dark places where they can operate unseen, lighting up the exterior of your property can be a great way to deter them.

This doesn't mean keeping your outdoor lights on 24/7, however.
Motion sensor lighting can achieve better results without racking up your energy bills.

Motion sensor lighting (sometimes referred to as ‘dawn to dusk' lighting) is an effective deterrent to burglars since it triggers whenever motion is detected, giving a visual on the property's exterior so that you or your neighbours can see what's going on.

A burglar will typically flee from the property if detected by a motion sensor light.

One thing to keep in mind when purchasing and installing a motion sensor light is its placement and its sensitivity.

Cheap motion sensor lights will trigger from the movement of a squirrel or from leaves blowing in the wind; good motion sensor lights are calibrated to detect movement from a human.

These lights are quite easy to install by a qualified locksmith near you, and they also provide you with the added benefit of illuminating your front/back door early in the morning or late at night so that you don't trip or fall.

Light Timers

Covering key areas of your property's exterior with motion sensor lights is a great way to deter burglars from approaching the property in the first place.

Another is to install indoor lighting that is timed, thereby giving passersby the impression that someone is home, even if they aren't.

Light timers are relatively affordable and quite easy to fit.

No complicated installation is needed.

Just make sure that you set up the timers in an ideal fashion and you're good to go.

Protecting your property: Key tips

A locksmith is your trustworthy consultant for some of the most important home security strategies you can implement for your home or business.

Below are some top tips to keep your property safe and secure:

Know your neighbourhood

Just like anywhere else, the UK has many towns and neighbourhoods with some much safer than others.

Certain neighbourhoods may be prone to property crime such as vandalism and burglary, others may be more prone to antisocial behaviour such as in the vicinity of nightclubs.

Choose security elements that will achieve the desired result.

For example, security grilles can deter vandalism and loitering at businesses after hours.

Follow WIDE(N)

Keep your home or business secure by following the WIDE(N) approach outlined above.

Use compliant door/window locks

An alarm system won't do much good if a burglar can simply walk through the front door or hop through a window left ajar.

Use high-quality, British Standards-compliant door and window locks.

Use CCTV and/or burglar alarm systems

Add layers of defence to your property with monitoring and surveillance and install a suitable burglar alarm and/or CCTV system on your premises.

How can a locksmith help with home security systems?

Depending on your security needs and the complexity of your burglar alarm and/or CCTV system, installing and calibrating your security system can be overwhelming as a DIY project.

Failure to install it properly can make it wholly ineffective at its one and only purpose - to secure your property.

For this reason, many locksmiths (but not all) can assist with burglar alarm system and CCTV installation at homes and businesses in the UK.

Enquire with your locksmith if they can install these systems for you.

Home security systems: Frequently asked questions

What types of home security alarm systems are available for homes and businesses?

There are many different types of alarm systems and CCTV installation that are available to homeowners and business owners in the UK, such as wired systems, monitored systems, and wireless systems.

Depending on the intended usage, many provide superb security to meet your needs.

What should I consider when choosing a home security alarm system for my home?

There are many important considerations for alarm system installation in the UK, including the security needs of your property, the size and dimensions of your property, the types of sensors and monitoring (e.g. integrated with police) offered, brand and features, and much more.

Can I install a home security alarm system myself?

Many simple alarm systems do not require professional installation, but more complex security system installations can and should be performed by qualified security consultants or locksmiths.

Not only does this ensure that they are properly installed and calibrated but also that your property insurance remains valid.

What types of CCTV cameras are available for home or business use?

Although the cost of CCTV camera installation has fallen drastically in recent decades, there is a dizzying amount of choices available.

Some of the more popular CCTV camera installations for homeowners and business owners in the UK include dome cameras, pan-tilt-zoom cameras, and bullet cameras.

What should I consider when choosing a CCTV camera for my home or business?

Some of the most important considerations when shopping for a CCTV camera include integration with smartphone apps or security systems, viewing angles, clarity and resolution, the ability to record and store footage, motion detection features, and resistance to weather (for outdoor installations).

Can I install a CCTV camera myself?

Some CCTV cameras are relatively simple to install in your home, but more complex arrangements and technologies are best left to qualified security consultants or experienced locksmiths.

Professional CCTV installation helps ensure that your property is enjoying the full security benefits they bring.

Home security systems near me

Aside from installing a home security system, here are some additional tips for protecting your property from burglars:

  • Keep your doors and windows locked, even when you are home.
  • Install deadbolts or other security locks on your doors.
  • Use security film on your windows to make them more difficult to break.
  • Trim trees and bushes around your property so that burglars cannot hide.
  • Install motion sensor lights around your property.
  • Get to know your neighbours and report any suspicious activity to them.
  • Consider installing a burglar alarm system.

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