Surveillance Camera Commissioner Annual Report published January 2018
Covering the period of 1st April 16 until 31 March 17, the recently published Annual Report from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) has been presented to Parliament. In the report the Commissioner, Antony Porter, states that his accomplishments over the year include publishing the 3 year strategy for the National Surveillance Camera Strategy (NSCS) and increasing local authority compliance. The strategy compilation was led by experts from the private and public sectors including industry professionals.
A key aim of the strategy is to improve the standards of camera surveillance and to put new requirements in place where necessary. These standards will apply to everyone to surveillance equipment manufacturers, distributors and installers. Access to the records and footage is to be made easier for members of the public should they wish to make a request as they are identifiable in the footage.
It’s clear in the report that the general public’s safety and security is a key factor to the strategy’s reason for being implemented. It’s seen as critical that under any new regulations consent to the possibility of being recorded by video surveillance is as clear and informed as possible. This aspect is vital to allow legitimate means and methods of surveillance. Within the strategy it is proposed that events and workshops are held in order to increase the understanding of the regulations and any changes that are taking place as a result.
Technology is rapidly progressing in all areas, equipment that is capable of recording video footage now includes flying drones and body cameras. Facial recognition software is readily available to authorities, Police have started using it in conjunction with body cameras to highlight when they come across people who have been identified as a threat to situations. These advancements are a boon to national security but whether it’s an advantage when it comes to individual privacy remains to be seen. The Commissioner wants members of the public to be kept up to date on different advancements regarding surveillance technology as well as it’s use over different situations.
The SCC Annual Report aims to highlight developments in the strategy to ensure the public are kept informed at the same time as political bodies. Wider collaboration is expected between local authorities, such as councils and Police forces across the country.
The aim is to regulate the activity and allow quantifiable benefits of all surveillance cameras and other recording equipment. This will lead to more effective decisions being made in relation to funding the purchase and planning of larger systems.
It is the intent of the strategy and the Commissioner to greatly increase standards and compliance with relevant authorities by gaining clearer guidance and to have a better recognition of companies that adhere to the set standards. A major component will be regarding standards of cyber resilience that include equipment and software as well as installers. The roll out of these changes is proposed to take place in Autumn 2018.
£2.2 billion is the approximate cost of surveillance camera technology in the UK annually. A ‘Buyers Toolkit’ will be put together to guide all investments made in security so they are spent effectively and in accordance with public expectations. The report states that 93% of local authorities are compliant in CCTV largely down to the self assessment tool. More and more organisations are voluntarily adopting the new standards set by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner. Combining self assessment with the toolkit should tighten surveillance use up even more and prove beneficial to both the industry and the public.
Throughout the report the Commissioner conveys the message that the public’s safety and trust should be at the forefront of all surveillance planning. People need to be confident that CCTV operators will use their equipment legally, ethically and as required. Hopefully the Strategy will be successful and gain the desired trust and confidence across the country.