The High Court has forced West Midlands Police to suspend its controversial policy of not answering burglar alarms at businesses during daylight hours.
The British Security Industry Association has won a judicial review of West Midlands Police's policy of not attending alarm calls from business premises between 6am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday, unless it receives secondary confirmation of a break-in.
The move was condemned by Steve Clark, technical consultant at Royal & SunAlliance.
He said: “We deplore what West Midlands Police did. Innocent customers who had installed systems to comply with its guidelines would have failed to get a police response for 50% of the week.”
He added that if the force were able to reintroduce the policy, RSA would manage the threat through risk assessment rather than increasing premiums.
The police policy change was implemented unilaterally and without consultation by West Midlands Police on June 1. It has since been suspended until the full legal hearing in around 40 days' time.
Stephen Adams, customer relations director of the BSIA, said: “We welcome the stay, but recognise the alarms industry need to work with the police to get a revised alarms response policy in place.”
He added that the BSIA had received backing for its campaign from groups as diverse as The National Trust and the British Jewellers' Federation.
The BSIA is due to meet with ACPO and West Midlands Police to develop a revised alarms response policy.
During the stay period, West Midlands Police will revert to national guidelines laid down by the Association of Chief Police Officers.
These state that police will attend up to four alarm calls in six months before reducing or delaying its response. If an alarm holder suffers a total of seven false calls in 12 months, police are entitled to ignore the alarm.
West Midlands Police introduced the change, claiming false alarms are a drain on its resources.
A significant proportion of false alarms during daytime hours were caused by human error as opposed to criminals, a force spokesman said.
But although the number of false alarms in the West Midlands area increased by only 2% between 1996 and 1999, the number of installed alarms grew by 18%.
A debate was held on Tuesday in Birmingham to discuss the police policy, and was attended by insurers and security industry representatives.
John Moore, senior alarms manager for West Midlands Police, was also present at the debate, which was sponsored by alarm company BT RedCare.