ACOMMERCIAL property insurers could be forced into a crisis as the police come under increasing pressure to change their response to false burglary alarm calls.

It follows an upturn in false burglary alarm calls, which showed a 4.4% increase last year to more than 905,000. In London, the cost to the Metropolitan Police of attending the 172,000 false alarms in the capital was estimated to cost up to £17m a year.

The rising burden threatens to reignite last year's crisis when one force, West Midlands Police, said it would not attend alarm calls unless it received confirmation of a burglary from a secondary source.

West Midlands Police was forced to reverse the policy following threatened legal action from the British Security Industry Association.

Earlier this year, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) issued guidance to police forces, advising them to consider withdrawing support if a business premise suffered more than five false alarm calls within 12 months.

ACPO figures showed 91% of burglary alarm calls attended by the police proved to be false. The increase in false alarm calls was the first for a number of years.

However, the number of remote signalling alarms that automatically call alarm receiving centres for a police response rose by 10.2% to 923,664. The chairman of the ACPO security systems working group, deputy assistant commissioner Andrew Trotter, called the increase in false burglar alarm calls “disappointing”.

He said: “Continued reductions in the number of false calls are required to ensure that alarm systems remain a deterrent to crime and allow the police service to make better use of limited resources.”

Trotter said continued reductions in false alarms would only be achieved with the cooperation of the private security industry, alarm inspectors and Association of British Insurers.