National CCTV strategy to tackle integration and data retention

Recommendations by CameraWatch target many of CCTV's biggest operational and compliance problems.

The future use and implementation of the 4.2 million CCTV systems in the UK is set for an overhaul to improve training and integration between systems, following the publication of a report backed by CameraWatch, the CCTV advisory body.

The National CCTV Strategy Project report, awaiting publication at the end of June, seeks to standardise the practices of CCTV.

The publication's main concern is that of technology use within the CCTV system focusing on two aspects: picture technology and proper training for those working with the CCTV system.

"The use of CCTV as an evidential tool has grown significantly but, 89 per cent of CCTV images that reach the police are far from ideal," says Ian Cunningham, project manager of the National CCTV Strategy Project.

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Cunningham also says due to the increased use of digital systems in retrieving information, the need for technological knowledge and skill has increased as well. He claimed there was "Inadequate training for all staff engaged in CCTV and no uniform training standards." This makes smooth and efficient use of CCTV problematic when workers lack the knowledge to operate the system.

Efficient use of cameras will also be addressed. CCTV cameras are now being required to perform conflicting tasks, potentially reducing their overall effectiveness.

Many CCTV cameras were installed in the 1990's and although crimes patterns have changed, no review of the system has ever taken place. The strategy's recommendations hope to improve the use of CCTV and tailor its functions to current needs.

Also to be released in late summer is the CCTV Code of Practice which will focus on the definition of personal data and clearer restrictions and justifications of usage.

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