Intruder alarm grades are a crucial consideration for all UK businesses serious about security. The grade of alarm system your business requires will depend on the risk level of your property.
Choosing the right grade is vital for safeguarding staff and assets. It’s also likely to be something you must comply with, in order to satisfy the requirements of your insurance policy.
What is EN50131?
The grading of security alarms fitted at UK business premises is outlined in the EN50131 European standards for intruder alarm systems.
This set of guidelines also became known as BS EN50131, after it was adopted by the British Standards Institution. Through their PD6662 scheme, the BSI introduced these European guidelines to boost intruder alarm standards across the UK.
EN50131 was originally adopted back in 2005 but, after various revisions, it remains a crucial reference point for British businesses in 2020 and beyond.
What type of systems are included in EN50131?
All intruder alarm systems are included in the EN50131 guidelines, along with hold-up alarms (together they are referred to as I&HAS).
Intruder alarms detect when somebody has broken into your property. Hold up alarm systems allow employees at a workplace to silently trigger a police response in the event of an attack on-site. They are otherwise known as duress alarms or panic alarms.
What are the intruder alarm system grades?
The key element of the EN50131 standard is the system of grades it outlines. These classify the level of sophistication that is required for the alarm system installed. The higher the risk of crime to your property, the more sophisticated the system you will require and the higher the grade.
There are four intruder alarm grades, which include:
- Grade 1 – Intruders are unlikely to target the premises.
- Grade 2 – There’s a higher risk of theft due to valuable property being kept on site.
- Grade 3 – There is a substantial threat from experienced intruders due to high-value contents.
- Grade 4 – The property has a very high risk of being targeted by organised criminals.
Grade 1 intruder alarm systems
Premises that require a grade 1 security system are unlikely to be targeted by criminals. The biggest security risk is from opportunistic thieves with little knowledge of alarm systems.
This type of intruder alarm system is most commonly installed at domestic properties, where the inclusion of an alarm is not required for insurance purposes. It guards against intruders who are most likely to break in and enter through a front or back door.
Grade 2 intruder alarm systems
An EN50131 grade 2 alarm system is required for buildings that house valuable property. This could result in a higher risk of theft as the property may attract the attention of more experienced criminals.
Potential intruders may be more savvy thieves who carry tools, have knowledge of intruder alarms and consider accessing the building through windows, as well as doors. A grade 2 wireless alarm system or hard wired alternative is therefore required to defend against this.
Examples of a property where a grade 2 alarm would typically be appropriate is a low-risk commercial property with a cash register such as a bakery, florists or hairdressers.
Grade 3 intruder alarm systems
Alarms that fall under this security grade need to protect against a more substantial threat of theft.
The property in question contains high-value contents and this is expected to catch the attention of a more seasoned criminal. These types of thieves have experience in tampering with intruder alarm systems and carry tools and equipment to overcome them.
An EN50131 grade 3 alarm system is sophisticated enough to protect against this higher threat of crime and is usually installed at most commercial premises such as a newsagent or a department store.
Grade 4 intruder alarm systems
Grade 4 alarm systems are the most sophisticated available. They are required to protect extremely high-risk commercial properties, which house highly valuable contents.
An example of a relevant property would be a bank, art gallery, high-end jewellers or office that deals with classified information.
These kinds of properties could warrant the attention of a well-organised thief, who may not be working alone. These types of criminals may well have the knowledge and equipment required to prevent detection.
They may consider all possibilities when it comes to breaking and entering the property, including access via the ceiling or floor.
What type of intruder alarm grading does my premises require?
If you’re unsure as to the grade of alarm your business requires, the first step is to have a risk assessment carried out on your property. This is another key recommendation within the EN50131 guidelines. It will highlight all risk factors to establish the most suitable grade of system required.
Each and every component within an intruder alarm system is graded. So it’s important to note that the overall grading is equal to the lowest graded component.
For example, if you have a grade 2 certified detection sensor and a grade 3 certified alarm transmission system, then the system as a whole is rated at just grade 2.
Need more information?
Our friendly team of security experts are on hand to provide advice to you and your business. Just get in contact if you have any questions. You may also be interested to read our 5 ways an intruder alarm can protect your business article or download an EN50131 pdf document from the British Standards Institution.
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