Hi, I’m Mike Lees and I’ve recently been asked by Tony Porter to take up the reins of the Voluntary Adopters strand of his National Surveillance Camera Strategy for England and Wales. You might be asking yourself – what’s a voluntary adopter and why have I been asked to lead the strand.
A Voluntary Adopter is an organisation that is not legally required (through the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 s.33) to pay due regard to the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice – they agree to adopt the code voluntarily. Quite obvious really.
And why am I leading the strand? I’m the Head of Business Security at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and in 2017 we became the first NHS organisation to be awarded the Commissioner’s third-party certification mark. We voluntarily adopted the code and went one step further by applying for, and getting, the certification mark. Why?
Well, we have over 150 cameras at the hospital and as we all know hospitals are places where members of the public are often in vulnerable or sensitive situations. We wanted to assure hospital users and staff that our surveillance cameras are used effectively, efficiently and proportionately. Also, we want to be transparent about why we use cameras and where they are sited. So, voluntarily adopting the code was a no-brainer for us.
The scope of the voluntary adopter sector is massive (every sector other than the police and local authorities!). If you’ve been a follower of Tony’s blogs you’ll know that health is an area that he wants to target in terms of raising standards around the use of surveillance cameras. This is, for obvious reasons, also an area close to my heart.
So, I’m going to stay fairly close to home to begin with and work with the National Association for Healthcare Security (NAHS) to raise the profile of the code, the Commissioner’s self-assessment tool and certification scheme. I can definitely see some benefits by adopting the code into the NHS national security standards and that is something I will be encouraging.
But I recognise that a broader, strategic approach is needed to reach out in to other sectors. I plan to link up with the other strand leads to identify any quick wins that there might be out there. Otherwise it’s a gentle trundle on with the work my predecessor did on retail, universities and other sectors as well as some work with the Security Institute and NHS England.
Part of that trundle with NHS England is sitting on the working group reviewing the NHS security standards and looking to include (even in part) the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. My firm belief and a real passion is that all organisations engaged in any surveillance should be accountable, open and transparent.
Part of this will be also to establish a small working group with representatives from different sectors to identify common themes. I think the interesting aspect of this work is the initial “what’s in it for me” response followed by the “can you help us self-assess and move to certification.” How do we harness that and drive up adoption of the code?
If anyone wants to get involved with this work or wants to suggest sectors to work with then please comment on this blog.