CCTV vs Burglar Alarms

Building site CCTV

Recently the chief inspector for South Cambridgeshire Constabulary flagged up an interesting debate – should businesses and homeowners be considering CCTV over, and above, burglar alarms?

Police tapeChief inspector James Sutherland made the statement at a local police panel meeting, saying:

“One of the reasons why solving crime in rural areas is much harder than cities is the total absence of CCTV.

“You go into Cambridge city and there is really good, authority owned CCTV and there has been for a long time.

“But there is none in South Cambridgeshire. If people can get CCTV then I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

“It’s a great deterrent for burglars and a better deterrent than a burglar alarm.”

Of course, the chief inspector is focussing on rural crime, but does his argument hold weight in a wider sense too?

cctv monitoringIs CCTV better than a burglar alarm? Our opinion…

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to security. There are often many factors to take into account beyond whether CCTV is simply ‘better’. For example:

  • Is CCTV really the most cost-effective security solution?
  • Have adequate physical security measures been put in place to support burglar alarms and/or CCTV?
  • Will it be possible to maintain the CCTV system to ensure it remains effective?
  • Should a burglar alarm be used in conjunction with CCTV?
  • The list could go on…

Why remote monitoring should be part of the debate

CCTV can act as a deterrent – as the chief inspector states. However, without remote monitoring, the footage from the CCTV camera can then only be used retrospectively as evidence in scenarios when intruders are not deterred simply by the presence of CCTV. And here at Farsight we do see many intruders who do not seem phased simply by CCTV being in place, as this incident goes to show.

With remote monitoring in place CCTV immediately becomes a much more effective measure and can in fact save site owners (whether they are business owners or home owners) money through crime prevention.

Remote monitoring ensures a quick and appropriate response and 24/7 surveillance from security professionals.

Find out how remote monitoring works in our video.

Remotely monitored CCTV can provide visual verification of an incident as it is happening – those monitoring the CCTV can then notify the site owner and/or the emergency services. There is more of a chance to stop and catch the intruders ‘in the act’ than if CCTV is unmonitored and footage is only used after the event has occurred. Remote monitoring is reactive to incidents as they happen with the aim of stopping intruders in their tracks.

When it comes to rural sites, the importance of remotely monitored CCTV increases further. Rural sites are often isolated and with the likes of farmland meaning expensive machinery nearby, they become targets for criminals. So much so that in 2013, NFU Mutual reported that rural theft cost the UK £44.5m. Remotely monitored CCTV means incidents at rural sites can be picked up on, when otherwise they could have gone unnoticed.

intruder and fire alarm monitoringRemote monitoring for burglar alarms should be considered too

Back to the chief inspector’s comments though – when we bring remote monitoring into the picture then burglar alarms too can become much more effective…

Many think of burglar alarms as ‘bells only’ systems. So they alarm and just make a lot of racket until someone switches them off. In many inways the standalone burglar alarm has become a victim of the ‘boy cries wolf scenario’ – people have become ‘immune’ to them.

But burglar alarms can be monitored and their efficiency dramatically increased – when an alarm is activated, remote monitoring professionals can assess the level of risk and if necessary notify a key holder for the property and/or the emergency services. Find out more about remote monitoring for intruder and fire alarms.

In many instances sites that are ‘closed’ (so sites that have all of their assets within an enclosed space) will benefit from a well-installed and professionally monitored burglar alarm. And that could include some rural sites.

All in all…

A big part of security integrators’ jobs is to assess the level of security required at a site and off the back of that recommend the most appropriate security measures. There are so many different solutions available, beyond just CCTV and burglar alarms, it takes the knowledge and skill of a security professional to recommend the most effective option.

With that in mind, the chief inspector’s comments are, to some degree, correct – but without further detail, it’s important to consider the unique security requirements of each site. And it’s equally important to remember that, with remote monitoring, both CCTV and burglar alarms can become much, much more effective…