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Journalist, Routes Online

June 21, 2017

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

IFSEC 2017

Surveillance camera strategy will “drive up standards”

The three-year national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales will help to drive up standards while at the same time balancing threats to privacy, the UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner has stressed.

The strategy, launched in March 2017, aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community to enable system operators to understand good and best practice and their legal obligations.

Speaking at IFSEC 2017, Tony Porter, whose role is independent of the government, said it supports the Home Office responsibilities to keep the UK safe from the threat of terrorism and to reduce and prevent crime.

“I’m not anti-surveillance, I’m anti bad surveillance,” he said. “But surveillance is everywhere in the UK. We have six million cameras at the last count. If that figure was accurate three years ago, you could add another 25 per cent on it now.”

Porter, a former senior counter-terrorism officer who has just been appointed to another three-year term as commissioner, said there has been a significant increase in body-worn video, drones and automatic number plate recognition cameras in recent years, all of which fall within the scope of the code of practice.

But he explained that a self-assessment tool, launched since he became Surveillance Camera Commissioner in March 2014, is already helping organisations that use surveillance cameras in public places identify if they are complying with the code. The tool has 12 guiding principles and enables users to put an action plan in place if they are falling short in any areas.

Clare Crump, auditor for the NSI, also explained to IFSEC 2017 delegates that the code seeks to strike a “balance of protecting public and upholding civil liberties” and outlined the steps that organisations which voluntarily wish to show compliance need to take.

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