Noise caused by frequently or continuously sounding vehicle or intruder alarms is a common cause of complaint. They can cause considerable distress and annoyance to neighbours particularly if they sound regularly and at night when people are trying to sleep.
If you have an alarm fitted to a building or a vehicle you have a responsibility to ensure the device is working correctly and does not cause a nuisance to others. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended) by other legislation the Council has the powers to force entry to a vehicle or property for the purposes of silencing the alarm.
The majority of the time when an alarm is set off, it is as a result of a faulty design, equipment, installation or incorrect use. To prevent causing a nuisance to others it is recommended that you take the following actions;
(i) Fit a cut out to prevent the alarm sounding for longer than 20 minutes at a time without being manually reset. (A flashing light which continues to operate after the alarm has silenced itself is acceptable).
(ii) Ensure that there are key holders who live nearby, who are able to silence the alarm within 20 minutes of noticing that it is sounding.
If we receive a complaint we will visit and if a Statutory Nuisance is occurring and there is no-one available to silence the alarm, a formal notice issued under the above Act can be served, requiring the noise to be stopped.
Once on a premises an authorised officer can take whatever steps are necessary to silence the alarm. Where possible the preferred option is to disable the externally mounted alarm box.
If it is not possible to silence the alarm without using force to enter the premises, then the Council will apply for a warrant from a Justice of the Peace in order to force entry.
In either case all costs incurred in silencing the alarm will be recovered from the person responsible for the alarm, which will usually be the owner of the property. These costs are likely to be at least £200 and could be substantially more if we have had to obtain a warrant and force entry into your property. If we are required to silence an alarm on more than one occasion it is likely that we will take a prosecution for which there may be a significant fine.
If the vehicle is parked on the highway or in a public car park and if the alarm has been sounding for more than one hour, notice can be served on the vehicle owner. This allows the Council to stop the noise by, if necessary, forcibly entering the vehicle or removing it to a suitable place to silence the alarm. The owner or keeper of the vehicle will be responsible for any cost incurred from this action.
Where vehicles are parked on private land, such as the driveway of a house, then we have to follow standard noise nuisance procedures and it can therefore take more time to resolve, as we may need to apply for a warrant to go onto the premises.
To avoid either situation, vehicle owners are recommended to have their alarms fitted by a competent installer, ensure it has an automatic cut-out which will silence it shortly after it has been activated, check the alarm regularly to make sure it is still operating correctly and have faults rectified immediately.
If a vehicle alarm is sounding incessantly near you then contact us with the following information:
● Details of the vehicle (including registration number, colour and make)