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Solace blog

4th December 2015

Live long and prosper – do you know where all your surveillance cameras are?

The recent attacks in Paris have put security into sharp focus. Surveillance cameras, whilst not preventing the horrific events, have helped identify the culprits. Do you know where all your surveillance cameras are and if they are working?

Another question to ask is whether you are confident that your managers know where all your surveillance cameras are across your business. Your teams may have a good handle on your town centre public space CCTV system and that’s the scheme your communities are probably most familiar with too. What about the entirety of your surveillance camera systems across the local authority though? Most local authorities will have schemes in housing, leisure centres or recycling centres. You may have cameras on some of your transport vehicles, such as bin lorries – it is
worth checking that your traffic enforcement and environmental officers are using Body Worn Video cameras.

All these schemes may well be operating independently of each other but one thing they have in common is that they must comply with all the relevant legislation. As you probably know, that primarily means the Data Protection Act and the Protection of Freedoms Act. Under the latter, all Local Authorities must pay due regard to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. Are you certain that all your systems are operating within the boundaries of the legislation?

If local authorities don’t have a good understanding of the surveillance cameras they operate they can face financial, legal and reputational risk. Do you know how many cameras you have, where they are, why they are there and if they are being operated within the legislative framework?

It might seem a bit bewildering but there is a way that you can be sure all your schemes do operate within the legislative framework. A good solution is to introduce a single point of contact (SPOC) for all surveillance camera issues. They can act as the main contact point for anything related to surveillance cameras and can help to introduce organisation wide surveillance camera policies and procedures.

Your SPOC can also ensure that staff across your organisation operating surveillance cameras are properly trained, keep them up to date on changes to legislation and help them develop and even chair a governance group.

The best person to take on the SPOC role might be your town centre CCTV manager – they will be an expert on all the current legislation and will be in an excellent position to advise other schemes that operate within the Authority.

If you’d like more information about introducing a SPOC please contact the Surveillance Camera Commissioner and also read his case study with Huntingdonshire District Council and Cambridge City Council.

By Tony Porter, Surveillance Camera Commissioner