CCTV: Why Standards Need to Adapt to Technological Developments

Simon Adcock - BSIA CCTV Section Chairman
Simon Adcock - BSIA CCTV Section Chairman

The CCTV sector is continuing to experience rapid change due to technological innovation. Simon Adcock, Chairman of the British Security Industry Association’s (BSIA) CCTV Section, explains why legislation, regulation and standards must also adapt if they are to serve their purpose effectively.

Current Situation

“In 2012, the Protection of Freedoms Act formalised the Government’s intention to drive CCTV best practice forward. The CCTV Code of Practice – made up of twelve guiding principles – aimed to define best practice in a way wherein public protection was paramount.  While the Code of Practice was undoubtedly a ‘step in the right direction’, it is flawed.

“Presently, the Code of Practice only extends to publicly-owned systems. However, the private sector is a key player in the CCTV arena; only one out of every seventy CCTV cameras currant in use are publicly owned according to BSIA research released last year. That is, the majority of CCTV cameras in the UK are privately owned and, as such, do not fall under the remit of the current code of practice dictated by government.

Need for change

“Logically, the next step for the current CCTV Code of Practice, is the application of its twelve guiding principles to cover privately-owned systems. Not only do they form the majority of CCTV coverage in the UK, they are also responsible for providing significant evidence to Police. Tony Porter, newly appointed as Surveillance Camera Commissioner, is currently hosting a standards development working group chaired by Alex Carmichael (the BSIA’s Technical Director) which aims to engage with the industry to determine minimum standards for CCTV installation, monitoring and operation.

“Intuitively, given the direction things are headed, CCTV manufacturers and installers should ‘get ahead of the pack’ and get involved with the BSIA’s dedicated working groups and CCTV section meetings if they want to remain one step ahead of the latest standards developments and learn about best practice from their industry peers.

“Recently, the BSIA’s CCTV Technical Committee has updated the Association’s own Code of Practice, Form 109, to reflect current trends in CCTV from planning and design to installation and operation. Vitally, it also includes the 12 principles from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Code of Practice, bringing these further into the consciousness of installers and manufacturers.

Long Term Benefits

“All standards go through an almost continual cycle of review, so there is always an opportunity for companies to become involved in the process. Once standards have been implemented, the BSIA learns from the experience of its members so that when standards come up for their next review, members are able to influence standards to their own benefit, to ensure that the standards work well for the industry.

“At section meeting level, the BSIA also coordinates publicity and messaging around the launch of new standards, making a joint decision with members to determine the Association’s support for a given standard, and how it can be promoted to their advantage, positions BSIA members as the leaders in their field.”

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