Paul Tennent – Surveillance Camera Code of Practice

Paul Tennent, Managing Director of Tavcom
Paul Tennent, Managing Director of Tavcom

Paul Tennent is Managing Director of Tavcom which in 2014 is celebrating 20 years as the leading international provider of accredited security systems training. Like his father Mike Tennent, the founder and CEO of Tavcom, Paul passionately believes that formal training programmes leading to accredited and recognised qualifications, as well as CPD structured points through vocational assessment and project work, is a winning formula to ensure that people of all skill levels can be effective and successful in their workplace. In this article Paul provides a brief overview of the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.

“You may not have noticed it, but the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice came into force about six months ago. If however you are wondering when you will find time to study it, the good news is that it is only 25 pages long. The even better news is that unless you work for a public body such as the police or local authorities in England or Wales, it does not actually apply to you.

“The objective of the Government in introducing the new Code was to respond to concerns in respect of the potential misuse of video surveillance in public spaces. According to the BSIA, only one in 70 existing CCTV cameras are in fact under public sector control ownership and so the Code does not cover the vast majority of CCTV installations. If you are a private company or organisation, or you are an installer mainly involved in commercial projects, the Code is not relevant to you.

“There is plenty of common sense built-into the Code’s 12 guiding principles, such as ‘Use of a surveillance camera system must always be for a specified purpose which is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need’, and ‘The use of a surveillance camera system must take into account its effect on individuals and their privacy, with regular reviews to ensure its use remains justified.’ To a large extent though, these issues have previously been addressed by the Data Protection Act and it would be surprising if any public sector organisation was to deploy a video surveillance system without first producing an Operational Requirement.

“The Code does not distinguish between different types of camera systems, but it does state that some of the more advanced forms of technology such as facial recognition or other biometric characteristic recognition solutions ‘need to be clearly justified and proportionate in meeting the stated purpose, and be suitably validated. It should always involve human intervention before decisions are taken that affect an individual adversely.’

“Public bodies are expected to be self-regulating with regard to the Code with the Surveillance Camera Commissioner for England and Wales having no enforcement or inspection powers.

“As previously mentioned, the Code does not apply to private sector video surveillance systems and it does not appear that the Government has any intention of revising it in the future in order for it to do so, despite lobbying from organisations such as Big Brother Watch which would like to see much tighter monitoring of the use of all CCTV cameras.

“For those of us who work within the electronic security industry, any measures which increase professional standards and enhances the general public’s perception of the value of CCTV, has to be a good thing. The video surveillance industry ability to continue to grow is reliant on its reputation for designing, specifying and installing equipment that is fit for purpose. It will perhaps not come as a surprise to readers that at Tavcom we passionately feel that training can play a crucial role in ensuring all stakeholders, including salespeople and engineers, understand the importance of a well thought out operational requirement the existence of which can result in a well designed system that is capable of meeting the customer’s expectations.”

Tavcom Training’s 2014 Prospectus can be viewed online at, whilst a printed copy is available upon request: email The Prospectus provides information on over 70 accredited classroom and distance learning online courses including which collectively cover a diverse range of subjects including CCTV system planning, CCTV Installation, CCTV Repair & Maintenance, Video over IP, Control Room Management and a specific course in respect of the Operational Requirement.