Welcome to my brand new blog – I’m Tony Porter and this is my first ever blog post in my role as Surveillance Camera Commissioner, my first blog ever actually! I’ve been in post about two years now so you might be thinking why blog now, why not earlier?
Well the past two years has been a bit of a whirlwind – I’ve been out visiting organisations and speaking to people in the industry, learning an awful lot on my travels. My team and virtual teams have also been producing guidance like my self-assessment tool, certification schemes and guides to help people understand how to apply 12 guiding principles in the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice to their surveillance camera schemes.
I want to use this blog to share my ideas about new areas of work my team and I are exploring and importantly see what people think about them, talk about stories I’ve seen in the media around the use of surveillance cameras and what I’ve seen on my travels.
One thing that’s struck me from all my visits, meetings, speeches and so on is the large amount of good work going on around surveillance cameras to raise standards. From Local Authorities and Police Forces transparently publishing information about their CCTV systems or body worn video, to privacy campaigners pushing for more information and installers and manufacturers ensuring effective systems are in place so they look after, not look at, people.
A new strategy for surveillance cameras
This is all excellent stuff but the other thing that struck me is that much of this work is going on independently of each other – in isolation. There is no strategic oversight, no one pulling it all together saying “hey Local Authorities why don’t you speak to the Police because they’re doing some really important work on body worn video that will help make sure you use it within the boundaries of the regulation...”
Here’s my idea – a national surveillance camera strategy bringing all aspects of surveillance cameras together, providing an overarching framework for surveillance camera systems, users, manufacturers, installers and designers in England and Wales. This is not a new idea – this is what the 2007 National CCTV Strategy attempted (albeit only for CCTV), it was a thorough and innovative approach but for a number of reasons much of it didn’t move from recommendations into delivery.
So, I’ve set up a small working group, made up of industry representatives and experts reporting to my Advisory Council to develop a new strategy for surveillance cameras and I’ve set them a challenging task of presenting this to me in six months – by Autumn 2016.
A huge part of this will be consultation with the people in the industry, police forces, members of the public and so on. I really want to get a broad range of opinions fed into this strategy. So, what do you think about this holistic approach to surveillance cameras, is it a good idea and what areas should we focus on?
There will be lots of opportunities to feed into the strategy and this blog will be one way for me to share ideas about it as it develops so make sure you sign up for email alerts and also follow me on Twitter.