The use of CCTV cameras is becoming more widespread with the UK recorded as having around 5.2 million cameras in 2020 and London among the top 10 most surveilled cities in the world.
What was once a luxurious commodity is now a common household item. From the world’s first CCTV camera installed in Germany in 1942 to an estimated one billion cameras in the world by the end of 2021, it took us hardly 79 years to reach that number.
What is the reason behind this worldwide surge in video surveillance? How are they used in the community and how can they benefit us? What about privacy concerns? Do their benefits outweigh their costs? Read on to find out:
CCTV (CLOSED-CIRCUIT TELEVISION) CAMERAS
CCTV systems make use of video cameras and recorders to monitor the interior and exterior of a property and are considered one of the most effective deterrents against crimes such as violence, burglaries, and vandalism.
You won’t walk or drive much far without seeing a “CCTV cameras in operation” sign outside a private or public property such as roads, airports, town centres, and public transport.
CCTV IN PUBLIC PLACES
CCTV cameras are used in public places all around the UK to help prevent and detect crime. They provide the community with a sense of safety and are used to:
- Maintain public order and prevent antisocial behaviour,
- Provide reassurance to the public,
- Provide recorded evidence to the law enforcement agencies, and
- Promote economic well-being within the community.
Criminals actively avoid committing crimes in areas under CCTV surveillance since it plays against their biggest ally; stealth.
Just the presence of a CCTV camera has proven to be effective in deterring criminals, with ex-cons claiming that they stay away from places under surveillance because it increases their chances of getting caught.
No one wants to commit a felony and get caught on camera, and this holds for all kinds of criminals including thieves, burglars, intruders, murderers, and vandals.
In addition to providing recorded footage, CCTV cameras also allow real-time video surveillance easily conducted from a remote computer, mobile phone, or tablet.
Such monitoring allows users to keep an eye on every inch of the area, even if they aren’t physically present on the premises, which is a way more efficient and cost-effective way for overall security.
With professional CCTV monitoring, there are experts at an off-site monitoring centre keeping an eye on the area and alerting the concerned people and departments in case of any suspicious activity.
CCTV AND LAW ENFORCEMENT
CCTV cameras play a huge part in aiding law enforcement agencies in maintaining peace in the community along with catching the perpetrators for any wrongdoing.
CCTV footage helps collect evidence and with advanced features such as automatic facial recognition and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), it is now easier than ever to track and identify suspicious people and behaviour.
The police can use photographs of convicted felons to correlate with CCTV images and use facial recognition to identify and easily catch them.
Similarly, ANPR technology can read number plates picked up by the camera and match them against a saved database of all the vehicles in the country.
It has proven to be extremely beneficial in detecting several offences that include locating stolen vehicles, curbing the use of uninsured vehicles, and solving cases of terrorism and organised crime.
According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), there is a network of 13,000 ANPR cameras in the UK submitting around 55 million records to the systems daily.
CCTV cameras can also help track suspicious people and objects and alert the operators to events such as overcrowding, which can be especially beneficial in trying to enforce social distancing during this pandemic.
CCTV footage may also be used as legitimate evidence against criminals in court, however, to be admissible, it must comply with strict regulations regarding the use of CCTV recordings, which we will discuss in a bit.
Ever since the advent of CCTV video surveillance systems, the technology has been met with mixed emotions with some people advocating their widespread use in curbing crime and terrorism, and some against them due to privacy concerns.
Video surveillance in the community means that you’re always being watched by someone which creates a sense of uneasiness and goes against the idea of freedom and privacy.
Sometimes, the devices that are made for our security can be used against us. CCTV cameras are susceptible to abuse, misuse, data leaks, and hacking, which can cause some serious harm to the general public and its well-being.
In April 2020, a massive data leak was reported when the ANPR system used by the Sheffield government was left unprotected and easily accessible to hackers, leaking some 8.6 million drivers’ records and personal information.
CCTV surveillance cameras can also provide a tempting opportunity to corrupt law enforcement officers for criminal misuse, institutional abuse, abuse for personal purposes, discriminatory targeting, and voyeurism.
Just as burglars are opportunists looking for loopholes in your security, such as an unlocked door or window, CCTV hackers work on the same principle and find vulnerabilities in the system to breach the public’s privacy.
One of the main reasons why CCTV cameras are hacked is to blackmail and access sensitive data. A hacked camera is like having a criminal sitting right beside you, hearing over all your important, and at times, confidential conversations and getting a clear understanding of the layout of the property if breaking-in is what they want to do.
Despite the backlash faced by CCTV cameras, their numbers are increasing with law enforcement agencies advocating their use in both private and public properties.
However, to ensure that the practice remains within the bounds of the law and serves its purpose of being an effective crime deterrent, the UK has passed a few laws regulating their usage in the community.
REGULATING THE USE OF CCTV
There are surveillance laws and legal requirements regarding the use of CCTV cameras in the community to operate them safely and securely, making sure to protect the public’s privacy and well-being.
The legal responsibility to follow the laws lies on the shoulders of the data controller, who can be an individual or organisation deciding why, what, and how the data is processed.
CCTV laws are taken very seriously, with a violation leading to criminal charges and the owners facing huge fines of up to £500,000.
The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)
The applies to all CCTV operators where the system is used for processing personal data and controls how the information is used by organisations, businesses, and the government.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOI)
The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) regulates access to information held by public authorities by obliging them to push certain information about their activities and allowing members of the public to request information.
The Protection of Freedoms Act (POFA)
The Protection of Freedoms Act (POFA) controls how surveillance and biometric data can be used, and how they must be kept secure.
The Human Rights Act (HRA)
The Human Rights Act (HRA) controls the rights of individuals regarding their privacy.
CCTV CODE OF PRACTICE
To make adherence to the data protection laws easier, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a code of practice for data controllers to follow that includes:
- Assessing the risk before installing CCTV cameras and consider its impact on people’s privacy.
- Registering with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as a CCTV operator, which includes paying a data protection fee (unless you’re exempted).
- Effective administration of the surveillance system by establishing clear responsibilities and procedures, along with documenting all aspects of data control.
- Positioning the cameras to make sure they record only what is relevant and capture footage of the right quality.
- Not installing CCTV cameras in private areas such as toilets and changing rooms.
- Ensuring that the data is stored securely and can only be accessed by authorised personnel.
- Informing everyone in the area that they are being recorded, which can best be achieved by putting up clear signage or communicating with the people involved.
- Ensuring that the date and time stamps on the recorded images are correct.
- Ensuring that wireless transmission of the data is made safe from unauthorised interception.
- Disabling audio recording on all CCTV systems, unless special circumstances apply, since it is a huge invasion of privacy and is largely discouraged.
- Ensuring that the recorded data is provided, within one month, to individuals who have been recorded on the system if they request to access it.
- Storing the data only for as long as it is needed, the duration for which varies from organisation to organisation.
- Sharing recorded images and video footage with the authorities, such as the police, if they ask for them.
- Regularly maintaining and reviewing the system to ensure it’s working as it should and is compliant with all the CCTV laws.
CHOOSING THE BEST SECURITY AND SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS
To enjoy the security benefits of CCTV cameras and to help make the community a safer place for everyone, you must make sure you have the right type of surveillance system installed that adheres to the CCTV laws.
Before you make a decision, the first thing that you need to assess is the requirement for the security system since the answer to that will determine which features you require and the number of cameras to install.
After that, you need to figure out where to install them. Haphazardly placing the cameras will defeat the entire purpose, which is why they need to be strategically installed.
There are many different types of CCTV cameras to choose from, each made for a specific purpose and having specific features. Here are the most popular types:
- Bullet CCTV cameras: one of the most common types of CCTV cameras out there, ideal for outdoor use, and used in applications that require long-distance viewing.
- Dome CCTV cameras: ideal for both indoor and outdoor use, have a discreet shape and allow wider angles to be monitored via 360-degree rotation.
- C-Mount CCTV cameras: bulkier in size and come with detachable lenses that can be switched to adapt to the distance and field of view.
- PTZ Pan/Tilt/Zoom CCTV cameras: offer impeccable video quality and allow more control over what is being recorded with the camera panning sideways, tilting up and down, and zooming in and out of objects.
- Day/Night CCTV cameras: built specifically to work during both the day and night-time, regardless of the lighting conditions, and ideal for premises that require round-the-clock CCTV monitoring.
- Infrared/night vision CCTV cameras: use infrared technology to record images and videos in absolute darkness.
- Network/IP CCTV cameras: connected over a network that allows the live footage to be accessed from anywhere in the world via the internet.
- High Definition (HD) CCTV cameras: come in a variety of resolutions ranging from 720p going all the way up to 4K.
All CCTV camera types come in two variants; wired and wireless. Wired cameras are known for their high-quality footage, consistent monitoring capabilities, and less susceptibility to interference and interruptions.
Wireless cameras, on the other hand, are made for the sole purpose of minimising the installation time and use of excess wires for a cleaner appearance. They transmit both live and recorded footage via a Wi-Fi network, but still require a power cable connection like their wired counterparts.
PROFESSIONAL CCTV SERVICES
At Calder Security, we understand the laws and legal requirements of using CCTV cameras in the community and offer a comprehensive range of solutions that include professional CCTV installation, monitoring, maintenance, and repair.
Our expert CCTV services include:
We are expert SSAIB-approved security system installers and supply only high-quality CCTV equipment from trusted brands such as Hikvision, one of the world’s leading CCTV manufacturers.
We supply both analogue HD and IP systems as well as advise you on which system would be most appropriate for your security needs.
Our team of professionals don’t just install the CCTV system and leave, but also provide full training on the equipment making sure you are comfortable with it and know how to use it properly.
Our CCTV monitoring services ensure that your property is being watched over by professional monitoring staff when it is unoccupied or most vulnerable.
The real advantage of detecting a break-in while it is in progress is the action that can be taken to deal with it, such as notifying the keyholders or alerting the police.
We use only Trusted Remote Video Receiving Centres (RVRC) and offer peace of mind that any incident detected would prompt an appropriate response.
Annual servicing is vital in keeping your CCTV system in good working order. Even if it seems that the system is running fine, the checks and measures involved in a professional service help with the early detection of potential issues.
During a service, we undertake a visual assessment of all equipment, check connections and cabling, clean the cameras, lenses and housing, assess playback and recording quality, and test remote signalling (if applicable).
We also offer CCTV maintenance contracts that include a regularly maintained system by professionals, 24-hour coverage, reduced call-out and labour charges, and a reduction in insurance premiums.
Even well-maintained CCTV systems can develop faults such as loose connections, cameras failing, the system not recording, playback not working, or poor-quality images.
If your system fails to record properly, loses clarity of picture, experiences drop out, won’t playback, or faces any other issue, our experienced engineers can diagnose and repair any faults quickly and with minimal disruption.
Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 9799 for a quick consultation with our leading experts for compliant CCTV systems that help make the community a safe place for everyone!