As part of my National Surveillance Camera Strategy we have a ‘voluntary adopters’ strand. The aim is to harvest those organisations whom, under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, are encouraged to comply with the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice but are not mandated to ‘have due regard ‘ to the Code.
So the police and local authorities have to demonstrate ‘due regard’. Many people will know I consistently challenge the government to widen this list – to include NHS, Education and Transport. These are discussions I will continue to have. However, I have also focused on other sectors where my Office can have impact. Last year you will recall that Marks and Spencer were the first major retail company to adopt the Code voluntarily and acquire my independent certificate of compliance. Millions of people pass through their stores annually, it’s a good thing those customers can rely upon enhanced protection of their civil rights when surveillance is contemplated and used.
It is with this backdrop that we have engaged the private parking industry, specifically the British Parking Association (BPA), whom after several months of engagement, discussion and briefings to senior executives, have launched the requirement to comply with the Code within their own Approved Operator Scheme Code of Practice. Specifically the new clause says;
Clause 21.5 - We have an expectation that when Operators are using cameras to manage parking, they will sign up to the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Code of Practice and adopt the Guiding Principles which are detailed in Appendix F of the Code.
This is great news. To acquire data from DVLA, parking companies have to demonstrate they comply with BPA regulations. BPA have highlighted that they expect these companies to comply with the 12 Guiding Principles of the Secretary of State’s Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. In my view this is a positive development and one which should raise standards in the use of video surveillance camera systems and should include processes of annual evaluation and review of systems – the absence of which contributes significantly to poor surveillance practice. Of course it wont remove the prospect of grumbles where parking fines are issued.
I will be monitoring the impact of this initiative, particularly to see how many of those organisations publish their adoption of the Code and even acquire certification. I must thank the management of BPA for this initiative and I look forward to evaluating its successes, challenges or otherwise over the coming year.