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June 22, 2016

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CCTV Commissioner was “Shocked” only 2% of Local Authorities Complied with Standards

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner Tony Porter said that when he came into the job he was shocked that out of the 433 principal local authorities, just 2% complied with the recommended standards for camera surveillance.

The self-styled ‘man with a plan’  has outlined his plans to drive up standards to an audience at the IFSEC exhibition in London today.

Tony Pporter, Surveillance Commissioner

Tony Porter, Surveillance Commissioner

“Surveillance stands were not mandatory there had to be a strategic approach to it and I am currently working with the British Standards Institute to try to work out a rationale to make these things more relevant.”

Mr Porter has already moved the issue forward by introducing a self-assessment tool. “Effectively it is something you can download from a website. It’s an interactive PDF document. If you run surveillance you can actually assess your system against that tool. The police use it, local authorities use it and they swear by it. About 73% of local authorities have now used it which means they can demonstrate compliance. It is where the tide is moving.”

He insisted there was no the point in having a self-assessment tool if there was no visible demonstration to people that organisations were representing an outward sign of their inward excellence, so has also introduced certification. “There wasn’t any such scheme before so now I have introduced certification in two stages.

“Once you are self-assessed you approach one of the three certification bodies and they will have a look at your self-assessment tool. It’s not about tripping you up it’s about throwing a light on standards that hitherto only 2% of councils complied with.”

 

Anti-bad surevillance

Mr Porter insisted that he is not anti-surveillance but anti-bad surveillance. “In the two years since being in this role, boy have I seen some bad surveillance,” he remarked.

“I have seen analogue technology that is dying of death, I’ve seen whole infrastructures that were great 25 years ago but now nobody really knows why they are there. The obligation for everyone should be to move from bad surveillance to good surveillance.”

The commissioner, who is independent from government, published a new code of practice several weeks ago. He said: “I am entrusted to unsure that surveillance cameras are there to support communities and not spy on them. The code of practice that I oversee contains 12 guiding principles and if users effectively comply with those principles they are showing de facto that they are supporting communities and not spying on them.”

The government did not invest any powers in him – a source of concern a few years ago but two years in Mr Porter believes the government made exactly the right decision. “Because in seeking to raise and drive up standards, particularly among the relevant authorities, we are beginning to see a significant breakthrough,” he said.

There is believed to be 4-6 million surveillance cameras in the UK, which means people in an average town or city can be captured by 300 cameras on 30 different systems. Mr Porter said: “Since that research was done three years ago we’ve got dash cams, head cams, body-worn cameras, the Met police on their own ordered 20,000 body-worn cameras. It is a growing piece of business for all of us. However while CCTV doesn’t always prevent crime it is vital in bringing many of the perpetrators to justice.”

Tony Porter was voted 7th most influential person in the security industry by readers of IFSEC Global. See the full list here

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