Councils ‘should prove CCTV systems comply with legislation’

Gordon McLanaghan, manager of Bristol City Council Public Space CCTV.

Gordon McLanaghan, manager of Bristol City Council Public Space CCTV.

A senior CCTV manager has welcomed the idea of compulsory data security audits for UK organisations.

Gordon McLanaghan, manager of Bristol City Council Public Space CCTV, supports the Justice Select Committee’s recommendation that the Information Commissioner should conduct compulsory security audits on NHS Trusts and local councils.

McLanaghan has developed the council’s control centre for the last decade. His control room has won national awards and holds several accreditations, including CCTV User Group Gold Accreditation and the CameraWatch Platinum Award.

Last month, the Justice Select Committee called for councils across the UK to have compulsory data security audits from the Information Commissioner.

The Commission currently has statutory powers to inspect central Government departments, but also offers free audits to both public and private sector organisations. Figures showed only 47 per cent agreed to such an audit, which the MPs described as “shocking” and called for compulsory audits to be extended to NHS Trusts and local councils.

A report from the Committee read: “We recommend that the Secretary of State bring forward an order under section 41A of the Data Protection Act to meet the recommendation of the Information Commissioner that his power to serve Assessment Notices be extended to NHS Trusts and local councils.”

Bristol Council’s network has been put through a number of accreditations to improve CCTV data compliance and ensure it adheres to legislation such as the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act.

McLanaghan told SecurityNewsDesk it is his belief that all council CCTV operations should be audited. The expert reckons control rooms should show that everything they do is compliant and can evidence they operate to levels expected by the Home Office, which issues guidance as to how CCTV systems should be operated.

He said: “There are not many pieces of legislation that covers CCTV but the ones that do are very important, the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act. We should be showing that everything we do is compliant with those pieces of legislation.”

McLanaghan added compulsory audits would help ensure all council CCTV operations meet the levels expected and go some way to silencing doubters of CCTV who claims the cameras infringe on their rights.

“When you are audited all you are doing is proving you work to a minimum standard. You are proving you have reached a minimum acceptable level and I think that everyone should be seen to be doing that. And if you are not doing it, then why are you not doing it?” said McLanaghan.

“Most control rooms are probably working to the codes of practice that are out there and all you have to do is evidence the fact that you are and have your policies and procedures in place to back it up. Most of it is about having the correct policies and procedures and not the people sat with the cameras.

“We are in the spotlight of everything that we do, therefore we should be seen to be doing things right.”

 

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