CCTV end users: raise your voice or get drowned out

CCTV end users must raise their voices to be heard over the other special interest groups

As we have reported on our site this morning, the BSIA is urging CCTV businesses to get more involved in the development of CCTV standards, but they are silent on the issue of other – non-commercial – stakeholders getting more involved.

Editor's blog: Tom Reeve

Editor’s blog: Tom Reeve

There’s no mystery about this: the BSIA is an organisation that looks after the commercial interests of its member companies and by all accounts does a pretty good job of it. It runs a regular stream of conferences, there is a constant stream of communication coming from its media department, and it constantly seeks to engage its members in the development of the industry.

In addition, BSIA Chief Executive James Kelly knows his way around the lobbying game, for instance, spending the political party conference season pushing the security industry agenda – or at least, the agenda according to the BSIA.

Meanwhile the police are very active as well, pushing their CCTV agenda and laying claim to being the ultimate end-users in the CCTV food chain. But again, one has to ask, what about the owners and operators of CCTV systems?

Police may claim to be at the top of the CCTV food chain but there are many in the CCTV industry who would question this. Who pays for the systems? Not the police. Is CCTV used exclusively for crime prevention and investigation? No – it has many other functions. Have the police responded to the CCTV industry’s request for feedback about how they use the CCTV evidence they turn over to the police? Some police areas do, most don’t – the overall impression is that it’s very patchy at best.

End-users would be rightly dismayed to think that commercial and police concerns were being pushed to the top of the UK government’s regulatory and legislative agenda to the detriment of end-users’ concerns, but one has to ask, where are the voices representing the CCTV end-user community?

The visibility of the end-user community is at a low ebb and I fear that unless that changes, the end-users will lose their voice altogether. They could end up being sold the systems that the CCTV industry wants to sell them rather than the systems that they need, and the police will continue to use the systems while reinvesting little by way of funding or even advice and expertise.

Worse than that: if the CCTV managers and operators are cut out of the discussion, their input ignored and their concerns not addressed, the CCTV manufacturers and the police will actually lose an invaluable source of expertise and experience to their detriment.

So while it’s good for the BSIA and the police to push their agenda, let’s ensure that the end-users’ agenda isn’t lost in the process.

[Edit] After I posted this article on LinkedIn, Andy Brooks, Owner of TeleVigil Associates, commented: “Interesting observations Tom. May be the British Standards Institute (BSI) regional workshops being held next month as part of the Surveillance Commissioners promotion of the Code of Practice, will provide stake holders with an opportunity to discuss and explain their points of view.”

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s regional workshops will visit Manchester, Bristol and London in November and are free to attend. More information can be found at the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s website.

So thanks to Andy for that comment!

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