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The Regulatory Landscape in the UK’s Alarm Monitoring Industry

Alarm monitoring software provides a crucial layer of protection for many businesses.  However, the effectiveness of these systems relies not only on cutting-edge technology but on stringent regulations and standards that govern the industry in the UK.

This article will delve into the intricate web of standards that ensure the reliability and quality of professional alarm monitoring services. Specifically, we will explore the role of regulatory bodies, the importance of certification, the challenges in adhering to regulations, and how to overcome them. 

Alarm Monitoring Regulatory Bodies and Standards

The National Security Inspectorate

The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is a not-for-profit organisation and a certification body for the security and fire safety sectors. They are accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

To get NSI approval, organisations must comply with various British Standards and NSI Codes of Practice. There are distinct standards relating to different types of systems, including:

  • Access control systems
  • Intruder and hold-up alarm systems
  • CCTV monitoring systems
  • Scaffolding alarm systems
  • Alarm Transmission System requirements

Within each category, there are both mandatory and optional standards relating to system functionality, system security, maintenance, commissioning, remote support, the management of false alarms, and other specifics.

In addition, there are several standards and Codes of Practice are mandatory for all systems. This includes BS 7858:2012, which pertains to the security screening of personnel employed in a security environment.

An important one to look into is BS 5979. This Code of Practice applies to Alarm Receiving Centres receiving signals from fire and security systems. It gives recommendations for the facilities of manned and unmanned remote centres, in terms of their planning and construction.

NSI Approval Schemes

The NSI has a range of approval schemes for different types of organisations. The scheme for ARCs and RVRCs (the ARC Gold Scheme) requires organisations to comply with the following:

  • BS EN ISO 9001 quality management system requirements
  • NSI quality schedule SSQS 102 (industry specific quality management requirements)
  • CS 8418 on detector activated CCTV systems
  • BS 8484 for lone worker device monitoring (compliance ensures a priority response from the police).
  • BS EN 50518:2019 for remote centres receiving signals from fire and security systems

To gain approval under the scheme for electronic security systems, organisations must comply with:

  • BS EN ISO 9001 quality management system requirements
  • NSI quality schedule SSQS 101
  • For intruder alarms: PD 6662, BS 8243, BS 8473 and BS 9263
  • For CCTV monitoring systems, NCP 104
  • For access control systems, NCP 109
  • For detector activated CCTV systems, BS 8414
  • For scaffolding alarm systems, NCP 115

The Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board

Another key regulatory body is the SSAIB. This independent, not-for-profit organisation is responsible for assessing and certifying companies that provide security systems, alarm monitoring services, and systems for fire detection and management. 

They also have UKAS accreditation and are approved by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) for their QA scheme for the private security industry. In addition, their schemes comply with all Police policies in the UK and Ireland.

Approved providers have to comply with British or European standards, and International or SSAIB Cods of Practise that apply to the services they offer.

SSAIB Schemes

Being certified under their scheme for ARCs is proof of compliance with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and Police Scotland policies on Police Response to Security Systems.

It also demonstrates compliance with the Chief Fire Officers Association’s (CFOA) Policy on Remote Monitored Fire Alarm Systems (RMFA). As such, it enables organisations to direct alerts to fire and police control rooms.  

In addition, it shows compliance with BE EN 50518, a European standard that covers the technological, operational and organisational requirements of ARCs. Their lone worker scheme ensures that ARCs comply with this standard, as well as BS 8484. This ensures not only an emergency response but confirms the reliability of communications in lone worker solutions. 

Why Should Alarm Receiving Centres Get Certified?

Compliance with regulatory standards is not merely a bureaucratic necessity; it is fundamental to ensuring the reliability and effectiveness of monitoring services and minimising the number of false alarms the emergency services receive. That’s why certification is necessary in order to guarantee a police response. Certification is also beneficial for insurance purposes.

Obtaining certification from the recognised bodies mentioned above demonstrates a commitment to maintaining high standards, and this ultimately benefits the end customer and helps in building trust, assuring clients that your services meet the highest quality and safety standards.

In addition, compliance often involves implementing efficient processes and procedures, which can result in smoother operations and quicker response times during emergencies.

The certification process involves rigorous audits, including the assessment of equipment, staff training, and operational procedures. The time it takes depends on the size of the organisation and on completion, the regulatory body typically provides a report. If there are any outstanding issues, they may include recommendations to resolve them in order to obtain certification. Re-certification is required every few years and yearly inspections will be carried out.

Compliance Challenges

While adhering to regulations and best practices is essential, organisations often face certain challenges, including the following:

  • Changing regulations: Regulatory requirements can evolve over time. Keeping up with these changes and adapting internal processes accordingly can be a challenge, especially for smaller organisations with limited resources.
    • Human error: The human element is always a risk, and mistakes or oversights in staff training and procedures can lead to compliance issues. 
    • Technological advancements: The rapid pace of technological advancement means ARCs must continuously update their systems and procedures. Integrating new technologies while maintaining compliance with existing regulations can be complex.
    • Data protection: With stringent data protection laws like the GDPR, ARCs must ensure strict compliance in handling and storing personal data. Balancing the need for effective monitoring with privacy requirements is a significant challenge.
    • False alarm management: Reducing the number of false alarms while ensuring genuine alarms are promptly and effectively dealt with is a constant challenge.
    • Cybersecurity threats: As ARCs increasingly rely on digital technologies, they become more vulnerable to cyber threats. 

How Can ARCs Overcome Compliance Challenges?

The challenges above require ARCs to be adaptable, resourceful, and proactive in their approach. Here are a few things to consider implementing to reduce the risks:

  • Use compliant software: The best software will be compliant with not only alarm transmission standards, but data protection and other security laws. 
    • Internal audits: Regularly conduct internal audits and quality control checks to ensure compliance with standards and regulations. This also involves keeping detailed records of all alarm activations and responses.
    • Regular policy reviews: Stay updated with changes in regulations and best practices in the industry. Update policies, procedures, and technologies to reflect these changes.
    • False alarm management: Implement verification strategies to minimise false alarms.
    • Staff training: Well-trained staff are essential for keeping up with the demands of the industry. Continuous training programs keep employees current on best practices and help them handle complex situations with confidence.

How Does Alarm Monitoring Software Improve Compliance?

Leading solutions such as GeminiSense are designed to meet the regulatory requirements for alarm transmission, system security and data protection. Our software also features advanced tools for vastly reducing the number of duplicate and false alarms from any CCTV system or other monitoring system. It also logs all system activity automatically, streamlining internal and external audits. 

The software streamlines the admin processes required to manage an Alarm Receiving Centre, freeing up time to focus on strategy and improvement. 

With the software improving all the time in line with technological advances, it helps future-proof your organisation against changing regulations. (Also note, ISO 1009 (required for certification) is based on quality management principles including continual improvement.) 

Another advantage of modern monitoring software is that it’s designed to work with the latest communication protocols – not only PSTN, which is soon to become obsolete


The UK alarm monitoring industry operates under strict regulations and standards to ensure the safety and security of businesses and the public. Compliance with these standards, coupled with certification from recognised bodies like the NSI and SSAIB, demonstrates commitment to providing reliable and high-quality services.

Staying compliant amidst a changing regulatory and technological landscape can be challenging. But with the right software, the burden is vastly reduced.

High-profile security organisations, ARCs and the emergency services have trusted GeminiSense to handle their alarm monitoring for decades. To see for yourself what it has to offer, contact us today to book a demo.

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This list shows those CCTV products where at least minimum functionality is supported. As manufacturers improve their products and GeminiSense is continuously enhanced, the integration functionality is subject to change.