Jason Towse, managing director of Mitie’s Total Security Management business, discusses the challenges associated with the investigation of business crime and the active role that alarm receiving centres (ARCs) could play a much bigger role in supporting the police in managing CCTV data and in low level crime reporting.
There is a view that the proliferation of CCTV creates as many challenges as it does benefits. Whilst undoubtedly aiding in crime detection and evidence collection, CCTV has made the process more time intensive and complex due to the ever-increasing number of data sources to review.
The result? Business crime is becoming less of a priority area for the police. Stretched resources dictate that police pursue crime against the person, which is much more high profile.
If this is the case what can we do about it?
If business crime is becoming less important to the police, business needs to look at ways it can fill the gap and provide support. Currently businesses rely on ‘calling in the crime’ and then awaiting the response from the police. This could be one area for change with companies instead self-reporting crime.
To do this there is a need to invest in an incident reporting and analysis platform, investment which demands resource to make sure that the process is followed end to end. Without this the initiative will quickly wane and a business crime database will contain only incident data which has resulted in no outcomes.
It is here where I believe that ARCs and the private security industry could provide a good interface between business and the police.
Across the security industry there has been significant investment over the last 10 years in the building of alarm and video receiving centres. Now, the majority of larger security companies have their own centres.
However, the opportunities and indeed demands being made by clients mean that that the ARCs of the future need to be more like control and intelligence hubs. ARCs must be less about receiving an alarm and initiating a response and more about the assessing of risk, interpretation of data and ongoing management of actions through to closure.
ARCs are secure and robust environments which have to meet rigorous British Standards on everything from design and construction to contingency planning and resilience. Many ARCs are already providing monitoring to high risk estates within the CPNI environment on a proactive and reactive basis.
In order to do this individuals are carefully selected, vetted and trained to identify activities that could be described as outside the norm and to act as a point of contact for customers when suspicious activities or potential threats are detected.
By way of example, last week we received a call from an employee of a logistics customer who was concerned by activities outside of his building whilst he was working late.
The ARC team dialled in and accessed the onsite CCTV systems. They then identified a group of individuals who were acting suspiciously and, through direct interaction with the Police’s own control room, supported in providing commentary of activities, vehicle data and descriptions. This prevented a planned robbery at an adjoining premises. All this activity was undertaken through remote surveillance from a centre 300 miles away to where the incident was taking place.
The ability of these individuals to analyse data and video means that it’s a natural extension for them with to become a conduit for crime reporting and video analysis, if given relevant support and training. This is particularly relevant to customers in quick win sectors like retail, leisure and even financial services.
The police environment is changing and the challenge is there for business to stand up and bridge the gap. Technology and CCTV will support in securing convictions but it could place an added burden on the police.
Against this there is a great opportunity for the private security industry and for forward thinking ARCs to play an active role in supporting both our customers and police in managing this important business issue.