ECHO (Electronic Call Handling Operations Ltd), the industry-backed alarms handling operator, has announced that Essex Police and the Metropolitan Police Service have jointly issued notice to their registered Alarm Receiving Centres (ARCs) to be ECHO-connected by 1 October 2021.
Chief Superintendent Ewen Wilson, head of the Contact Management Command at Essex Police, stated: “From the outset, we’ve been at the forefront of the transition from existing telephone call handling of alarm activations to a modern, fully automated solution providing tangible benefits, including the reduction of call handling demands and police response times. Having been the first police force in the UK to successfully test and adopt the new process, we have every confidence in the delivery of this new automated service.”
Wilson added: “After careful consideration, Essex Police is now giving notice to registered ARCs that we expect them to become ECHO-connected by 1 October this year in order to retain police response for verified alarm activations of intruder and hold-up alarm systems.”
Following recent successful ‘end-to-end’ testing of ECHO’s new automated alarm signalling transmission service, these two police forces are now accepting intruder alarm system and hold-up alarm activation alerts directly into their Police Control Rooms without the need for manual call handling. From Friday 1 October, both police forces expect all alarm signals from approved ARCs to be transmitted in this way via the ECHO platform, prioritising and increasing the speed of police response.
Simon Banks, founder and director of the CSL Group and current chair of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), commented: “This is easily one of the biggest step changes for police-despatched alarms to happen in over 50 years.”
Response to NPCC requirements
The introduction of the ECHO-connected service is the alarm industry’s response to the National Police Chiefs Council’s Requirements (‘Police Operational Advice and Security Industry Requirements for Response to Security Systems 2020’). Section 3.1.4 of the Requirements states that ‘all intruder alarm system and hold-up alarm activations be electronically transmitted to Police Control Rooms… should the police force concerned be able to receive signals in this form’.
In 2016, Operational Advice envisaged the potential benefits to the alarm user, industry and police service of the automatic electronic transfer of alarm signals in eliminating communication errors and delays associated with manual telephone call handling to ultimately provide a quicker police response.
ARCs registered with Essex Police or the Metropolitan Police Service and requiring assistance to transmit alarm signals via ECHO should contact their alarm monitoring software provider.
Established in 2017, ECHO is a not-for-profit organisation delivering automated alarm signalling between the alarms industry and the police service. The BSIA, the Fire Industry Association, the Electrical Contractors Association and the National Security Inspectorate have played key roles in developing and implementing the initiative which itself presents a significant opportunity to facilitate the more efficient use of the Emergency Services, increasing call handling speed and accuracy as well as police response.
*For further information contact Mark Taylor, general manager for ECHO, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org