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Royal Newfoundland Constabulary

False alarms dogging Do-Right in Newfoundland

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More than 12,000 false alarms in one year, including 81 from just one address? It’s enough to make a deputy reach for the Screech.

For those who think our neighbors to the north don't have security-related problems, think again. In St. John’s, Newfoundland, police have their hands full in a way that would have many of their U.S. brethren nodding sadly in agreement.

According to a report last week by CBC News, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is being overwhelmed by false alarms. In 2012, they accounted for almost a quarter of the calls that the RNC handled in the St. John’s area.

“It has a dramatic impact on our service delivery,” Ab Singleton, deputy chief of the RNC, told the CBC.

The refrain will sound familiar to anyone who has dealt with the issue south of the border: Each of the 12,000 calls went to the RNC’s Communications Centre, where a dispatcher created a file, notified the alarm company and moved the call through the RNC system. An officer then responded unnecessarily, taking him away from other enforcement duties.

Singleton said the biggest problem with false alarms can be traced to a small number of businesses that have not trained their employees to properly use their security system, or have not replaced malfunctioning systems. The top six offenders in 2012 accounted for 344 false alarms, he said.

“The people either owning or operating the system, or the business, does not take the alarm or the work that we do seriously,” Singleton told the CBC.

The resulting waste of resources is unlikely to be stemmed any time soon. Police said the problem is getting worse, with more calls coming in and the percentage of false alarms rising. An increase in new homes pre-wired for alarm systems has been partly to blame, they said.