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Raising standards through my certification scheme

There’s been a lot of focus recently in the press about the potential mass intrusion of surveillance cameras and I’ve recently blogged myself about CCTV in taxis and the use of automatic facial recognition technology. These are big ticket items and it’s right they get the correct level of scrutiny but it’s sometimes easy to forget what people might refer to as ‘the nuts and bolts’ of surveillance cameras so I thought I’d give people an update on what I’m doing in regard to my certification scheme.

I launched the scheme in November 2015 and it’s one of the key tools that I use to raise standards amongst organisations operating surveillance cameras systems. Attaining the certification mark allows organisations to visibly demonstrate that their systems comply with the provisions in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and the 12 principles in the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice (SC Code). The Code also reflects key obligations and requirements under Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). Failure to comply with DPA can incur fines and sanctions from the ICO.

So, you may wonder – is the scheme working?

Well, having reached the three-year mark, I recently carried out a comprehensive review of the certification process with the three certification bodies that I work with (SSAIB, NSI and IQ Verify). Actually, it’s working fairly well and there remains continued enthusiasm for the scheme. 60 organisations have been audited and awarded my certification mark and it continues to grow with interest from numerous sectors.

The objective is to build on the success of my third party certification scheme with a renewed focus on driving up certification in police forces and local authorities as set out in the National Surveillance Camera Strategy. These are the organisations that must pay due regard to the SC Code. My long-term aspiration is for 100% take-up across this group. It’s challenging but given the new invasive technology already in use complying with the SC Code and demonstrating it will surely engender public confidence that surveillance cameras are used to protect us rather than spy on us. Additionally, some police forces have acquired the certification for their use of Body Worn Cameras and Drone technology. Each police force now has a senior responsible officer accountable for their use of overt surveillance. I will be engaging with this group to drive up visible adherence to these standards and take up of certification.

But why stop there?

A key element of my approach is to encourage the broader community of surveillance camera operators to adopt the SC Code and certification. We’ve already seen pioneers in this respect – Marks and Spencer, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and University of Salford have all acquired my certification mark. There are case studies about them on my website.

We are making progress – Defence Systems Ltd was the first parking enforcement firm in the UK to achieve my certification mark against the SC Code and we are working with the British Parking Association and the International Parking Community to get more parking organisations on board. Manor Walks Shopping and Leisure centre achieved certification for both CCTV and body worn video in August 2018.

So how can your organisation raise standards and demonstrate to the public compliance with the principles of the SC Code, data protection and any associated guidance or legislation?

Well, you can start by completing the self-assessment tool if you haven’t already done so. My website is kept under review and amended as legislation, technology and good practice evolves and emerges. Later this month, I will be launching a broader and more user friendly ‘on-line toolbox’ which is a set of guidance notes and templates on my website.

If you’ve got any questions about certification get in touch with my office or add comment on this blog.

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