The British Security Industry Association has responded to comments made by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner about the effectiveness of CCTV cameras in England and Wales.
In an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live, Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Tony Porter QPM LLB, reinforced the value that quality installation and maintenance can deliver to CCTV system operators in the public sector, citing the widespread problem of ineffective cameras: “There is a local authority actually in the West Midlands that did a local review and was able to reduce the cameras that were ineffective and useless to the tune of a quarter of a million. If that can be extrapolated across the country I think we can actually still maintain the balance of excellent surveillance but not have a promulgation of surveillance that actually is useless.”
Simon Adcock, Chairman of the BSIA’s CCTV Section and Managing Director of ATEC Security
, responds: “The effectiveness of CCTV and its value as a crime-solving tool does indeed rely upon proper installation and operation. Factors such as lighting, weather and image quality can all impact upon a system’s effectiveness, and as such, regular checks and maintenance of systems is essential. When deployed appropriately, CCTV can deliver crucial evidence in the fight against crime and provide valuable support to Police and local authorities.
“It is important to point out, however, that only 1 in 70 of the UK’s cameras are owned and operated by local authorities. The vast majority of video evidence comes from privately-owned systems, which dispels the myth of Britain’s ‘surveillance culture’ and demonstrates the indirect contribution that many UK businesses are making to public safety.
“As the trade association representing a large number of the UK’s CCTV manufacturers, the BSIA works closely with the Surveillance Camera Commissioner to raise standards and promote best practice in the manufacture and installation of CCTV systems. The BSIA welcomed the publication of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Code of Practice and continues to support innovation in the sector, while providing valuable education to users in both public and private sectors to ensure they choose the right systems and deploy them in such a way that delivers optimum results.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ programme, Adcock reinforced the importance of the Code of Practice in terms of promoting quality and best practice, but also made the case for its extension, to include privately-owned systems.
Pauline Norstrom, Chairman of the BSIA and Chief Operating Officer at AD Group
, supports this view: “Public and private organisations often co-operate with great effectiveness. Many serious crimes, such as the dreadful racist murder committed by Pavlo Lapshyn in Birmingham in 2013 probably would not have been solved had it not been for CCTV evidence from private and public operators. CCTV has a key role in law enforcement, something many forget or erroneously discount.
"CCTV can be highly effective in protecting the public and business from crime and other risks. However systems need to be implemented correctly and the cameras be of sufficient quality to act as a deterrent. The industry, with new technology, is currently bringing the changes that will see CCTV deliver greater effectiveness and returns.
"CCTV is there to help protect the public, property and company's employees from risk, threats and crime. We have to ensure this message is heard because without it, we are a less secure society."