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February 20, 2015

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Changing guidelines: lone workers and police response

Craig Swallow, SoloProtectBy Craig Swallow

Late last year, ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers) made its first moves towards what will eventually become a formal change in their guidelines to police forces, regarding how they should respond to a situation escalated via a lone worker device/alarm. They are designed to ensure that all lone worker alarms, and in turn any subsequent police response, is appropriately categorised in order to resolve a situation efficiently and appropriately.

Current guidelines state that any BS8484 approved Lone Worker Solution enables the A.R.C. (Alarm Receiving Centre) Operator handling a ‘red alert’ to escalate to the police via a U.R.N. (Unique Reference Number) in order to request a Level 1 response for the lone worker – put simply, an emergency only, priority level response, directly escalated to the relevant police force (U.R.N.’s can only be issued to BS8484 compliant Alarm Receiving Centres that are also BS5979 Cat II compliant).

This level of response is naturally of great benefit to any lone worker requiring emergency assistance if they are in a situation involving violence, threatening behaviour that suggests imminent risk of assault, or if witnessing a serious criminal offence taking place.

However, after discussions with several police forces, it has been clarified that a lone worker alarm relating to a less serious incident (a non-emergency in police terms) – shoplifting, a drive-off, public order offences etc., should not be escalated to the police via the U.R.N. system. This will instead be escalated by the Alarm Receiving Centre (nothing changes for the lone worker in this respect) using either a 999 or 101 call, as appropriate. This is to ensure best use of police resources.

False alarms raised through BS8484 approved Lone Worker Solutions have always been, and continue to be very low in comparison to other mechanisms that elicit a police response. These changes should however improve how appropriately policed a ‘red alert’ is. In short, these changes should promote a better working relationship between employers using BS8484 approved systems and the police – ultimately ensuring a fit, proper and effective response when required.

Kenneth Meanwell of ACPO commented; “Making these changes and ensuring clarity on the changes has become important to both ACPO and the police, as more and more lone worker solutions get deployed.”

Craig Swallow is managing director at SoloProtect UK

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