BT Redcare Shuts Down Operations: What You Need To Know

If you’re keeping up with the latest news from the security sector, the announcement of the closure of BT Redcare will no doubt have come as a surprise. A major player in the alarm sector for their 30 years in operation, they’ll cease all operations from the 1st August 2025 in what’s come as a shock move to their long-standing customers.

There’s also a degree of uncertainty, especially given that the announcement is still fresh in the minds of those in the sector, and those that rely on security for their peace of mind. We’ve seen this firsthand, and as a leading force in security across the UK, Churchill Support Services want to put any worries you might have to rest.

With this investigative piece, we’ll look at what the closure of BT Redcare means for you, why it’s going to be a key consideration going forward, and what you need to consider as that deadline approaches.


What Is BT Redcare?

The RedCare system, operated by British Telecommunications (BT), is a secure form of alarm monitoring. First established in the late 1980s, and linked with the infamous BT telephone lines, the service offered an alert system which runs using landline cabling, as well as a backup “polling” service in the event that cabling connections are lost or severed.

These were adaptable to both fire alarms – which would send an immediate alert to the fire brigade – or intruder alarms, which connect to a security service. This is where an ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre) would become involved, providing the immediate response to an alarm activation you need to ensure comprehensive safety and security.

With the backing of the BT network, Redcare quickly became a mainstay in the alarm industry, and especially so in protecting homes and businesses with an instant activation alert system. Of course, in their time at the top, Redcare moved with the times, implementing key measures to combat the changing tides of criminal behaviour.

They coupled their BT phonelines with higher speed connections, magnified response timeframes and encrypted communication to ensure total safety in the messages that were transmitted, and that Redcare remained at the very peak of the alarm response field.

That remained the case for more than 30 years, until, on the 1st February 2024, BT Redcare’s Nick Whiting announced the closure of the Redcare systems and alarm signalling service.


What Does The Closure Mean For Me?

In truth, this change could mean very little for you and the alarm systems you have in place. Conservative estimates from insurer Axa put the total number of people still using BT’s Redcare system at only around 100,000 people across the whole of the UK.

Given that there’s an estimated 11.3 million alarms in homes alone, along with around 2 million in businesses, it’s unlikely you’ll be using a Redcare system. Many have since migrated across to more modern and robust options – namely CSL’s DualCom system as this is the major competitor, but there are other alternatives available – or have opted for a different method of securing their premises or homes.

We would advise checking with your security provider, your alarm system, or with the alarm response centre themselves to ensure that the ARC you respond to does not rely on BT’s Redcare. Alternatively, you can contact your insurance company, who will likely have the information on file.

If you do still use BT Redcare, now is the time to make alternative arrangements. The latest news from BT themselves states that, as of the end of February 2024, they’re no longer offering new contracts to customers, and that those who’ve signed up with them have until August 2025 to source an alternative. We’ll detail what that means in our next section.


What Does This Mean For The Security Industry?

It’s naturally a huge loss for the industry. Speaking from the perspective of a security firm that’s been in operation since the early stages of BT Redcare, it’s saddening to see such an institution fall by the wayside, and especially so one that was so pivotal for many over the years.

However, insiders say that this has been a long time coming, with the advent of new and more reliable technologies outstripping the level of reassurance that Redcare could offer. We’ve already touched on CSL’s DualCom offering, which has quickly become a staple of the security sector, but that’s true of any dual-path alarm system, which provides safety on multiple levels.

New regulations surrounding what’s demanded from alarm systems (especially surrounding performance levels like DP3) also meant that alarm systems needed to change at a pace that Redcare struggled to match as it entered its twilight years.

As we’ll touch on more later, many security experts now look to Electronic Call Handling Operations (ECHO) systems as the future of alarm responses, and one that’s far more technologically-advanced than anything we’ve previously seen.


What Do I Need To Do?

If you aren’t on a BT Redcare system, you do not need to do anything. Your system will continue to work as normal, although we would advise keeping up-to-date with security resources like Churchill’s blog.

If you are using a BT Redcare system, you’ll need to make alternative arrangements. While BT are expecting Redcare to remain in operation until that eventual shutdown on the 1st August 2025, and their customer service lines are available for any questions, it’s better to get your plans in place sooner rather than later.

This is for multiple reasons. Many people with Redcare systems in place are likely to be unaware and be caught off guard by the closure, meaning there’s likely to be a greater surge as we get closer to that August deadline. This is only set to create overwhelming demand for the services available from alarm installers and insurers.

Similarly, it could also leave you more vulnerable to attacks and intrusions, especially if the systems start to lose effectiveness closer to the time. The same is true of all technologies – the older it is, the more susceptible it is to vulnerabilities.

With all that being said, you’ll need to source an alternative provider. CSL’s DualCom system (so named for its double methods of sending a signal from the alarm panel to the ARC) has long been the industry standard for many ARCs and their customers, but there are other providers that can offer similarly robust services.

If, like many businesses and homes, you’ve outsourced your alarm installation and connectivity, your provider will be in touch to arrange an alternative. There’s already precedent for this – CSL offered a similar replacement service when the issues with Redcare services first came to light many years ago.

But if you’re struggling to decide, we’ve compiled a list of just 3 key consideration points to look for when you’re identifying your next alarm system.


3 Key Things To Look For In Your Alarm System

With so much technical jargon and difficult-to-understand terminology surrounding alarm response services, it can be a challenge to determine exactly what you need. We’ve used our industry expertise, along with our long-standing history, to distil that down to just 3 key considerations.

1. The Right Certifications Are A Must

As with any security product you opt for, ensuring it’s properly certified and accredited is an absolutely essential consideration. Not only does this give it a seal of proper approval, it’s a must-have for your insurers, and they’ll likely ask to see proof of it during any application process you go through.

Here are the key accreditations and certification bodies you should be looking for, and what they mean for your ongoing safety and security:

  • The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) – This is the regulator for all alarm installation companies, and certifies the level of competency, excellence and installation capabilities a company has.
  • The Security Systems & Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB) – Another professional accreditation body, this allows installers to fit professional alarm systems, and connect them professionally to an ARC.
  • BS EN 50136-1 – The gold standard for all alarm transmission systems, this sets out the requirements and characteristics that all alarm systems demand.

These 3 are absolutely crucial considerations for your alarm system, and for any insurance policies you might take out. They also futureproof your business, ensuring that any system you have is compliant with the latest guidelines that these standards set out.


2. Invest In Cutting-Edge Technology

One of the most important takeaways from this article, and from the closure of BT Redcare as a whole, is the need to look to the future and what that means for alarm receiving centres. Technology plays a massive part in that, and it’s crucial you look to make a change as you move away from the BT system.

We’ve already touched on this, but it’s looking that ECHO (Electronic Call Handling Operations) systems are likely to be heavily engrained in the future of alarm response systems, and the people that operate ARCs.

This offers a level of immediacy that’s previously been unheard of, and provides a safety net in the event that a more serious issue arises. ECHO-connected ARCs have an instant link to police dispatch centres, and statistics show a marked decrease in response times.

This is, in our professional opinion, the direction BT Redcare is likely to go in, especially given BT’s existing commitment to ECHO systems, and their forward-thinking in becoming accredited as a certified supplier.

Similarly, as we’ve seen in recent years, dual communication methods (such as CSL’s DualCom system) have quickly become accepted as the norm. These provide an additional layer of reassurance that the later stages of BT Redcare sought to provide, and ensure that there’s always a connection between the alarm panel and the ARC.


3. Tailormade Installations Ensure Total Coverage

While this piece mostly addresses the large-scale changes that are set to impact the way alarm systems and ARCs communicate with each other, it’s also important to look at the wider process, and how we can ensure our safety before closures like this ever become an issue.

A tailormade installation process is one of the key ways to approach that, and it’s an aspect we’ve got consummate familiarity with here at Churchill Support Services. A bespoke install offers an ideal way to circumvent the issues you know are unique to your site, and that are of the utmost importance to you.

Opting for a provider like Churchill means you’ll always be at the forefront of the latest developments, and receive an install that’s purpose-built with both your site and the future at the forefront of all it seeks to achieve.

From that initial site visit, right through to the dual communication monitoring and ECHO integration that’s only set to become more commonplace, a customised installation is by far and away one of the most integral aspects of an alarm service.

John Melling

Group Chief Executive Officer

John has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.