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Complying with the surveillance camera code of practice
Many local authority public space town centre surveillance camera schemes comply with the code or are taking steps towards compliance. But local authorities are large multi-faceted organisations often operating numerous surveillance camera schemes outside the jurisdiction of the public space town centre CCTV manager.
These may be in:
- reception areas
- main entrances
- care homes
- sheltered housing
- community centres
- transport fleets
- leisure centres and swimming pools
- parks and recreation
Local authorities operating surveillance camera systems including body worn video (BWV) and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) should ensure they all comply with the code and other relevant legislation such as the Data Protection Act. If local authorities don’t have a good understanding of the CCTV they operate they can face financial, legal and reputational risk.
Introducing a single point of contact
Local authorities can ensure that all systems comply by introducing a single point of contact (SPOC) for anything related to surveillance cameras. The best person may be the manager of the main town centre schemes as they are more than likely to be extremely knowledgeable about the subject.
What they do
A single point of contact can help introduce surveillance camera policies and procedures that can be used across all systems. They can ensure that any staff across the organisation operating surveillance camera systems are properly trained and keep them up to date on changes to legislation. Local authorities must comply with:
- The Data Protection Act 1998
- The Human Rights Act 1998
- The Freedom of Information Act 2000
- The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
- The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
They can also look at putting governance arrangements in place for all schemes so system operators meet regularly to discuss issues and best practice. Furthermore, they can advise on changes to schemes including adding or removing cameras and where they are best sited, help standardise signage and improve competence across an organisation.
How to put a single point of contact in place
If you are part of a local authority, as a first step it is best practice to carry out an audit of the organisation to identify:
- exactly what type of systems are being used by the council across all departments (BWV, ANPR, unmanned aerial vehicles and CCTV)
- where the cameras are located
- who has responsibility for them
You may need support from someone at a senior executive level in your organisation to do this.
Once this has been done you will have a picture of the totality of all the surveillance cameras across your organisation. This will help you identify who is best placed to be the SPOC – it could be the Town Centre CCTV Manager, the person operating the largest scheme or the most knowledgeable person on the subject.
For more information on how a SPOC was put in place in Cambridge read our case study.