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CCTV can be an effective and versatile tool in helping to combat criminal activity, and other anti-social behaviour. It achieves this by a combination of:
The first CCTV systems were fairly expensive to install and maintain and, as a result, they were restricted to town centres, shopping malls and large industrial or military sites. However, technological development and reducing costs, coupled with greater versatility and reliability, have led to such systems nowadays becoming common at all sorts of premises.
What is a CCTV System?
In simple terms it is an electronic system for the capture of images, and their transmission to another location for viewing and/or recording.
The most basic CCTV system will consist of cameras and a just a television monitor; but most nowadays will also include a recording device, most typically a digital recorder - these devices having largley replaced older, less flexible, video recorders.
Whilst a basic CCTV system may act as a general deterrent to crime, unless it is being watched continuously it is only able to provide recorded evidence of events discovered or suspected after they occurred. If a CCTV system is to play an effective role in security outside business hours, it is usually necessary for the system to be activated by some form of alarm detector, which then initiates the transmission of live images to a manned monitoring post, e.g. a security lodge/gatehouse or a Remote Video Response Centre (RVRC). Such monitoring allows security operatives to view events and then arrange an appropriate response.
‘Hardfacts' 3004 CCTV - Guidelines for Purchasers provides further information on choosing a new system.
Common Applications for CCTV
A CCTV system can be put to many uses, but listed below are some security related applications, most of which will be overt systems but some may be covert (secret):
Controlling Theft, Arson and Vandalism
What Type of System is Required?
A careful analysis of the nature of the problems faced or anticipated should underpin any decision on system type. However, in general, the effectiveness of any CCTV system will be more dependent on good system design and competent operation or monitoring, than the cost, size or technical complexity of it.
Who Can Install CCTV Systems?
Legally anyone can, but it is prudent to only use reputable and competent installers well experienced in this field.
Police and CCTV
The police are generally supportive of CCTV as a means of combating crime. However, if they are to act directly on live or captured images they have to be able to satisfy themselves that they come from systems that meet high standards of operation, image quality and evidential procedures. In this regard, a useful document for CCTV owners/purchasers to read is ‘UK Police Requirements for Digital CCTV Systems' and codes of practice from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). See 'Sources of Further Information' below.
CCTV Response Arrangements
Wherever a CCTV system is monitored it is important that clear requirements and procedures are put in place for those expected to respond, for example:-
Locally Monitored Systems
Staff will need training in correct use of the system, plus safety and legal considerations if dealing with any observed criminal acts.
Remotely Monitored Systems
Clear instructions should be recorded in a 'Response Plan' or 'Service Agreement' outlining the actions that are required after any activation or fault signal.
These should cover notifying the Police, internal or external security staff, keyholders, maintenance engineers, or indeed any appropriate combination of them. Those who attend site should know how to operate all the site security systems, have authority to authorise essential repairs and be prepared to remain at the premises until adequate security has been restored.
Remote Video Response Centres (RVRCs) dealing with remotely monitored systems can quickly and reliably request police attendance only if:
a/ the system has been issued with a Unique Reference Number (URN) by the Police force in whose area the premises are located.
b/ the CCTV system meets BS 8418 and the installer and RVRC hold NSI or SSAIB approval.
Security Industry Authority (SIA)
The Private Security Industry Act 2001 requires contracted security guards, CCTV response personnel and those who monitor CCTV systems covering public spaces, to hold a SIA licence.
Data Protection Act
This act requires most CCTV systems to be registered with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). This requirement arises because nearly all CCTV systems capture ‘data' relating to members of the public, and this data can be electronically 'processed'. The act also gives members of the public a right to ask for copies of any data about them held on such systems.
The ICO has issued a useful code of practice relating to the design, installation and management of CCTV systems.
Key Action Steps
Fully assess the type of problem faced, e.g. safety, theft, vandalism or arson
Inform any insurers and seek their advice. This is particularly important if you want the CCTV system to replace any existing security measures, e.g. manned guarding.
Sources of Further Information
Other Hardfacts in the Property Protection - Security Series, which are available in our ‘Knowledge Store' at www.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions
Your CCTV company
Your local Police Crime Reduction Officer. See also 'UK Police Requirements for Digital CCTV Systems', downloadable from various sources, e.g.
National Security Inspectorate (NSI). Tel 0845 006 3003 or see www.nsi.org.uk
Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB). Tel 0191 296 3242 or see www.ssaib.org
British Security Industry Association (BSIA). Tel 0845 389 3889 or see www.bsia.co.uk
Information Commissioner's Office. Tel 01625 545700 or see https://ico.org.uk/
Security Industry Authority. Tel 0870 243 0100 or see www.the-sia.org.uk
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.
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