Security seminar hears from CCTV commissioner about industry regulation

Global-MSC-Leeds-2012
Global-MSC-Leeds-2012

The Global MSC Security Seminar in Leeds attracted 160 representatives from the security industry

The Global MSC security seminar in Leeds on Tuesday attracted 160 representatives from the security industry for a day of networking and presentations.

Featuring a keynote by the CCTV commissioner Andrew Rennison at the beginning of the day and capped off by a panel discussion chaired by the editor of SecurityNewsDesk.com at the end of the day, the event was buzzing from start to finish.

The previous evening’s dinner reception was attended by around 90 people. A raffle in support of the British Legion raised exactly £800 and featured a number of top prizes donated by exhibitors.

Speaking at the event, Andrew Rennison promised that the surveillance camera code of practice would be published early next year. The thrust of the code will be to promote transparency in the CCTV industry so that the public is confident that they know what’s being done in their name.

He repeated his cautionary comments – reported in the media – about the impact of automated surveillance systems and high-definition cameras and warned that steps must be taken to reassure the public that it’s being used in their best interests.

Interim CCTV Regulator, Andrew Rennison

Surveillance camera commissioner Andrew Rennison

It’s part of “surveillance by consent”, a concept that Rennison is championing in the same vein as policing by consent. Policing by consent is based on nine principles of policing which were articulated by Charles Reith in 1956.

“Policing has moved on since 1956,” he said, “and most of you are now part of what’s known as the wider policing family, and as such these principles apply to that community as well.”

Rennison revealed that he has been in discussions already with the Office of the Surveillance Commissioner and the Information Commissioners Office regarding areas that potentially overlap with the jurisdiction of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner. He told the seminar that he will shortly sign a memorandum of understanding with the other commissioners and that he isn’t planning to “venture into their territory” on issues regarding data protection or covert surveillance.

He revealed that he has been asked to brief the new Police and Crime Commissioners early next year. No doubt he will let them know about the vital role that CCTV plays in investigating crime and supporting police officers in town centre operations.

Regarding this point, several members of the audience said that the police should be contributing more money to the running costs of CCTV. While recognising the role that CCTV plays, Rennison said the police were unlikely to pay anything toward it because of budget cuts.

The audience asked a number of questions, among them Andy Bailey from South Tyneside Council who said that his control room didn’t receive a great deal of feedback from the police regarding the effectiveness of CCTV. In reply, Rennison urged the industry to find ways of gathering this evidence because it would be needed to justify the use of CCTV.

Critical infrastructure

Another presentation was given by a representative from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) who talked about the training of CCTV operators.

Ahead of the London Olympics, the CPNI ran a number of training courses for CCTV operators based on research that they had already conducted.

The representative said that the research is continuing and the CPNI is developing three key training products from that research which will be freely available on the CPNI website by the end of this financial  year.

She emphasised the human element in CCTV, particularly in the way that operators function as part of a team. For instance, the CPNI found that operators consider themselves to be part of the overall security community or team, but those on the ground didn’t necessarily share that sense of camaraderie for the simple reason that they didn’t know who the CCTV operators were and couldn’t see them.

Forensics

The CPNI presentation was followed by David Spreadborough, a forensic CCTV specialist from the Cheshire Constabulary, who regularly writes about some of the challenges involved in CCTV examinations on his blog at www.spreadys.com

He talked about the problems associated with analysing video evidence given the myriad formats that it can be presented in. Every manufacturer has a different format and few of them are forthcoming with the information that would make video analysis any easier.

He urged end users to communicate to manufacturers the need to make digital video recording systems that make it relatively easy to export and analyse video evidence.

CCTV standards

The chairman of the CCTV National Standards Forum, Brian Pender, was the next speaker. Pender’s day job is head of security at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, one of the largest NHS Trusts in the UK.

He explained that the CNSF is a not for profit organisation providing independent advice to government, regulators and stakeholders on the regulation and use of CCTV within the UK.

While admitting he is not an expert in CCTV, he said the organisation has a lot of experts who are available to provide advice on myriad topics.

The public are generally supportive of CCTV and as Pender said, he is not aware of anyone feeling unsafe as a result of CCTV. Nonetheless, some people are concerned about it from a privacy point of view and the industry needs to acknowledge and address those concerns to avoid alienating people.

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” he asked, which in Latin means, who will guard the guards themselves? “Scrutinising ourselves will lead to a healthier industry,” Pender said. This all fits in with the growing demand in public life for more ethical practices.

In the short time it has been in existence, the CNSF has already achieved a number of key things including holding four forums, attending three conferences, development of a comprehensive website and responded to the draft code of practice from the CCTV commissioner.

Ethics

A recent recruit to the CNSF is Prof Allyson MacVean from the University of Chester who specialises in the study of ethics in security and policing.

She spoke of how important ethics is in establishing a framework for what’s acceptable and unacceptable in security.

During her talk she raised the example of DS Steve Fulcher of Wiltshire Police and the case of Chris Halliwell, a taxi driver in Swindon who was convicted of one murder but escaped prosecution for another murder because of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). This sparked a vigorous discussion among the audience, many of whom are current or former police officers with a strong view on the ethics of this case.

MacVean made the point that every ethical decision made is likely to have a negative impact on someone else. Organisations need practical and applied models for ethical behaviour – these will set out aspirations for individuals and organisations and help establish an ethical culture.

She made a plea that the CCTV industry, and the CNSF in particular, should consider ethics in the setting of standards and regulations.

The conference also heard from:

  • Richard Bell, a security manager at Transport for London about security assurance and CCTV in the transport infrastructure
  • Martin Bonfield from AMG Systems
  • David Markland of Silvernet
  • Andy Cassidy from Norbain
  • Robert Chandler from Lyyn
  • Martyn Rowe from Synectics Systems

The conference was co-chaired by Derek Maltby of Global MSC Security and Jerry Woods, principal consultant at Maven International (UK) Ltd.

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