Government announce national CCTV Oversight body

December 16, 2009

The UK Government has announced the creation of a CCTV Oversight body and interim CCTV regulator.

According to the announcement by The Policing Minister, David Hanson on the 15th December 2009, “The interim CCTV Regulator will, over the next 12 months, review the CCTV landscape and draft recommendations to Ministers on how the regulation of CCTV should be taken forward in future years. The Regulator will provide guidance on standards around the use of CCTV, image quality, training and raising public awareness about how and why CCTV is used. The Regulator will also establish a structure for complaints to be considered appropriately”.

The role of the interim Regulator will be to work with the National CCTV Strategy Board on six key areas. These are to:

  • Develop national standards for the installation and use of CCTV in public space
  • Determine training requirements for users and practitioners
  • Engage with the public and private sector in determining the need and potential content of any regulatory framework
  • Raise public awareness and understanding of how CCTV operates and the benefits to tackling crime and public protection
  • Review the existing recommendations of the National CCTV Strategy and advising the Strategy Board on implementation, timelines and cost and development of an effective evidence base
  • Promote public awareness of the complaints process and criteria for complaints to the relevant agencies (e.g. Information Commissioner, local authority, private organisation etc) and dealing with complaints relating to technical standards.

On this blog we have called for regulation in the past notably publishing Mark Harraway’s “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and Mike Tolley’s “The CCTV industry should put its house in orderso is this welcome news? Regulation is certainly well overdue but only time will tell.

To read the complete statement about the creation of a CCTV Oversight body and interim CCTV regulator click here.

CCTV prevents drunk driver causing mayhem – video released

December 10, 2009

CCTV video has been released of the moment that a seriously inebriated individual returned to his car after a night out and drove off.

Having drunken too much the unnamed man can be seen stumbling up to his car, kissing both sides and urinating on it before managing to open the door and driving off narrowly missing a parked vehicle.

Luckily CCTV operators were able to alert police who were able to pull him over before he could inflict any harm to himself, property or others. This is another example of CCTV in Action where we have shown that CCTV has proved its worth time and time again.

The incident that happened in March 2007 in Ely, Cambridgeshire is to be used by Cambridgeshire police as part of their “Dont drink and drive” Christmas campaign. The 36-year-old man who was eventually stopped and arrested for drink-driving was later banned from driving for 20months, given a referral order, fined £190 and ordered to pay £100 costs.

This is another example of how well monitored CCTV management systems can helpfight crime by targeting police resources to incidents as they happen. The recordings from CCTV systems like this are recorded digitally in high quality video resolutions so can be used to identify suspects and be used for evidence in court.

Where is the Christmas spirit? As Scrooge is caught on CCTV stealing Xmas tree and presents

December 8, 2009

Ok, it’s early December, perhaps too early for any Christmas spirit and good cheer you might think? Well you’d be right, certainly this thief was in no mood for any festive goodwill when he helped himself to a tree and presents at a garden centre over the weekend.

This is the moment that unemployed Michael Brown was caught on CCTV taking the Christmas tree and toys from a  Santa’s grotto in Denbigh, North Wales. He can be seen below on CCTV firstly hiding and then taking the items away.

The thief steels the Xmas tree and presents

The images demonstrate what a good CCTV system can do in order to fight crime. Other images from the CCTV clearly show the face of the thief enabling conclusive identification to be made. However, many CCTV systems do not provide high quality video with which to make identification possible which is why the CCTV industry needs standards. CCTV systems must also be well designed and planned so that they can provide the most damning evidence.

Later Brown is picked up on another camera making his getaway as he drags the tree and presents behind him like some anti-Santa. Unfortunately for Brown the tree he was dragging away with him left a trail of tinsel that led directly to his arrest later by police.  Brown, from Greenfield, Flintshire, North Wales, was ordered to pay a £65 fine, £100 costs and compensation of £91 at Prestatyn Magistrates’ Court.

The thief drags the tree and presents away

The CCTV industry needs regulation

December 4, 2009

Mark Harraway, Country Manager at Controlware calls for the need for CCTV standards

Both the introduction of CCTV conformity standards and creating the right approach to security design are needed to take our industry forward. And our industry does need to move forwards. Already we are seeing the Police start to say that CCTV is only one of their tools when it should be viewed as their primary tool: CCTV is the eyes of any security system, and as such when systems are well designed and managed CCTV is both proactive and clearly provides the most damning piece of evidence.

In the meantime however there is something that we can do to support our industry. We should start talking in a common language and encourage our industry bodies to take a more proactive leadership role. We should also be prepared to commit to universal testing regimes. Those of us that work in distribution – matching end-user requirements with manufacturers diverse portfolios, and having the knowledge and expertise that spans IT, IP and security industry knowledge – should be prepared to better support consultants by undertaking continued assessment and testing in order to promote the right product for the right project and, as best practice look at the OR as the driving force behind design.

At Controlware, we remain firmly committed to these values, and to moving the industry forwards. We use our expertise in system design, working with consultants, systems integrators and end users to provide guidance and understanding concerning the integration of security expertise with IT and IP knowledge.

The article “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” can be read in full here

The importance of the CCTV Operational Requirement

December 3, 2009

Mark Harraway, Country Manager at Controlware explores the importance of the Operational Requirement.

However, one of the biggest issues facing consultants is managing customer expectations and creating the CCTV Operational Requirement (OR). It’s the historical trend for manufacturer’s functionality to drive the OR but this is the wrong way round, OR should drive product selection. Another common issue is when poorly-educated specifiers base a solution on budget. Without proper regard for what is actually needed, a solution is created that does not meet the OR required today, or in the longer-term by not being reliable, or providing poor quality video footage that cannot be used for evidential purposes. This leaves consultants stuck in the middle. At Controlware we have a different approach. Every expert design we undertake begins with an OR. The OR determines the functionality specification, which in turn drives budget requirement. This enables our partners, customers and the consultants who work with us, to make informed and realistic choices for the right system to meet the end-user’s needs i.e. the budget may determine the selection of a cheap PTZ or a high quality static camera but it should be the OR that dictates the final choice.

The article “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” can be read in full here

CCTV consultants: Between the devil and the deep blue sea

December 2, 2009

Mark Harraway, Country Manager at Controlware explains why CCTV consultants are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea….

Consultants are also placed in a difficult position of having to talk to manufacturers to understand what is being developed and what can be offered to their clients as “the best solution” or deliver solutions that are “fit for purpose”, but they also must remain neutral in their selections in order to meet due diligence requirements.  There is also the need for them to learn a different set of regulations, system specifications and terminology in order to specify either Cat-5 or Cat-6 cable, HD or megapixel, RAID5 or RAID6. And it also doesn’t help that the IT industry regards CCTV as a big margin opportunity because of high bandwidth, storage requirements and associated hardware – but yet they don’t understand the Information Commissioner’s Office guidelines, Home Office evidence submission guidelines, transmission without pixilation, reliability of storage and footage retention, camera / lens selection or positioning. This results in conflicting or plain misleading information being given and passed on by the IT industry.

The following statements have been taken from real tenders provided by consultants, where I have been asked to help design solutions:

All new IP static domes are to be IEEE Power over Internet powered. – Power over Internet – or should that be Power over Ethernet.

All new IP static domes are to be 802.3af PoE compliant and powered from a local fused spur – Why would you want to do this? – Either you want PoE or not?

Storage Profile:  48 Cameras / D1 resolution / 25fps / zero compression / MPEG4 / 31 days retention = 3 Tb storage – So zero compression? – How are you going to fit that on 3TB without sacrificing one of the other elements?

All new IP camera points are to be cabled to CAT-5 standards using STP cable and 75ohm termination. – Does the installation require Cat-5 or Coax?

These errors highlight the issues facing our industry. The future of CCTV requires a knowledge-base which spans both in-depth knowledge of operational security requirements and also in-depth IT and IP knowledge, so that the best and most efficient security systems can be deployed.

The article “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” can be read in full here

A little CCTV knowledge is a dangerous thing…

December 1, 2009

Mark Harraway, Country Manager at Controlware explains why a little CCTV knowledge is a dangerous thing.

There have been some interesting and conflicting industry comments regarding the Home Office Scientific Development Branch’s (HOSDB) newly proposed test targets; many welcome the new initiative, while a number of consultants point out that they could be ineffective in driving the uptake of manufacturers to show compliance for their equipment, although the test targets and the scoring system need further review to ensure that they meet their goals. What is clear is that we live in an evolving industry, which is trying to discover for itself a clearer sense of direction, and is crying out for leadership from our industry regulatory bodies to develop a comprehensive set of achievable benchmark standards across manufacturing, installation and maintenance in order to meet useable evidence requirements.

As the industry moves forward to IP-based solutions, consultants are placed in an unenviable position of being trapped between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. There is so much confusing and conflicting information in the marketplace and the industry is moving forward so fast it’s impossible for many consultants to keep up with the knowledge required to specify IP-based solutions.

The article “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” can be read in full here