Auckland Council strives for consistency in public CCTV use

Auckland skyline

Auckland skyline

Auckland Council in New Zealand has issued new draft guidelines in a move to guarantee a consistent use of CCTV surveillance throughout public areas.

The guidelines comply with the Privacy Act and are built on eight principles. Designed to ensure public safety and reduce crime, they aim to ensure cameras are used appropriately in public areas and residents don’t feel like ‘big brother’ is watching.

Auckland Council claims the guidelines are based on the latest research and international best practice. They have been developed in collaboration with New Zealand police, local boards, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, business associations, community groups, the security sector and council-controlled organisations.

The guidelines are voluntary but the council are encouraging anyone who uses surveillance systems to adopt them. They apply only to public space CCTV and not to home or private space systems.

Anaru Vercoe, manager of Community Policy and Planning at Auckland Council, said: “There are a lot of differing standards of technology and use of camera surveillance. These provide a single set of guidelines to promote consistency and standards to improve public safety and respect people’s privacy rights.

“Auckland Council is providing leadership by creating a standard all camera system owners and operators can easily adopt. It will help them to decide the best way to choose and manage the use of camera systems as one of a number of safety tools available.”

The eight principles of the guidelines say that camera surveillance:

• will be used only for a specified purpose that is justified and appropriate
• is chosen and managed in partnership with others who are affected
• is used as part of an integrated safety or crime prevention strategy
• complies with the Privacy Act 1993
• complies with any relevant standards and legislation
• costs of ownership and operation are understood and affordable
• choice and operation is planned ahead of purchase
• use and effectiveness is evaluated, improved and reported.

The new guidelines are set to be implemented and tested, with refinements made following the evaluation period. They will be implemented by the council, Auckland Transport and other council-controlled organisations, in partnership with police across Auckland. A Memorandum of Understanding is set to be penned by the partnership in the coming weeks.

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