Daily Archives: 16/10/2014

Pilgrims Group supports the fight against Ebola at home and abroad

The Pilgrims Group is appearing on ITV’s Tonight programme at 7.30 pm this evening. The topic of discussion? ‘Is the UK prepared for the arrival of Ebola?’

The international security and risk specialist is helping organisations protect themselves from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The company’s teams are also supporting efforts to prevent the spread of the disease to the UK.

In West Africa, Pilgrims Group is working with commercial businesses, media organisations and NGOs by offering practical solutions around training, risk assessment, contingency planning and decontamination equipment for those teams operating in affected areas.

Here in the UK, the company is offering its expertise to airport managers and the Government’s border agencies in relation to the provision of staff training, equipment and other means of practical support.

“Prevention and protection are better than cure,” stated James Milnes, a leading specialist on the Ebola virus. “In the case of Ebola, where there is no cure, it stands to reason that prevention and protection are the only available options.”

Filming takes place for the Tonight programme on ITV

Filming takes place for the Tonight programme on ITV

Preparing for Ebola in the UK

In this evening’s broadcast, ITV’s science correspondent Alok Jha will be looking at how the UK is preparing for Ebola and asks if we are really ready.

Pilgrims Group has supported the programme by offering specialist advice and comment on the preparation processes for dealing with Ebola contamination, in addition to providing a practical run-through and demonstration of Personal Protective Equipment.

“The devastating human cost of the Ebola crisis and its potential for destabilising the international community has been recognised as a global threat by the World Health Organisation, the United States Government and many international organisations,” explained Pilgrims Group’s managing director Bill Freear. “We welcome the chance to play our part in effectively preventing the spread of this dreadful disease and eventually controlling it.”

*Access the ITV website for an in-depth preview of tonight’s programme complete with video interviews featuring James Milnes, leading epidemiologist David Heymann and infectious disease scientist Jeremy Farrar

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ICO Blog: ‘An updated CCTV Code of Practice fit for 2014 and beyond’

Jonathan Bamford – head of strategic liaison at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – discusses the ICO’s updated CCTV Code of Practice and outlines why a revised Code is required to meet the demands of modern society.

It’s nearly five months since I last wrote about the importance of having a CCTV Code fit for the demands of modern society. At that time the draft version of the Code was out for consultation. Now, all of your comments have been considered and our updated CCTV guidance is available on the ICO’s website.

The updated CCTV Code is one that’s truly fit for the times in which we live. The days of CCTV being limited to a video camera on a pole are long gone. Our new Code reflects the latest advances in surveillance technologies and their implementation, while also explaining the key data protection issues that those operating the equipment need to understand.

So what’s changed? Well, in some respects it’s a case of ‘keep calm and carry on’. The fundamental principles that need to be followed remain the same. People must be informed about the information being collected about them with relevant use of privacy notices and signage where required. The information also needs to be kept secure so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, and effective retention and disposal schedules must be in place to make sure information is only kept for as long as necessary before it’s securely destroyed.

The ICO has updated its CCTV Code of Practice

The ICO has updated its CCTV Code of Practice

However, the Code must reflect the times. The pace of technological change since our CCTV guidance was last updated in 2008 – let alone when it was first published some 14 years ago – has been considerable. These advances bring with them new opportunities and challenges for making sure the technology continues to be used in compliance with the Data Protection Act.

One common theme from the enforcement action we’ve taken in relation to the use of surveillance cameras is that there needs to be a thorough privacy impact assessment. This needs to be conducted before deploying these increasingly powerful and potentially intrusive technologies. The Code will help operators to stay on the right side of the law and save them from wasting money and resources on non-compliant systems.

New and emerging surveillance technologies

The new and emerging technologies section of the updated Code covers the key surveillance technologies that we believe will become increasingly popular in the years ahead.

A number of organisations are starting to use body-worn video. These small, inconspicuous devices can record both sound and images. This can mean that they are capable of being much more intrusive than traditional town centre CCTV. On that basis, their use needs to be well justified with safeguards put in place such as to ensure they are not used when they’re not needed. There must be strong security in case the devices fall into the wrong hands. The Code details specific guidance to help deal with the challenges of using these new devices.

The guidance also considers technologies that are not currently commonplace, but which may prove increasingly popular in future. Just last month, the Civil Aviation Authority released figures showing that over 300 companies have now been given permission to operate UAS (Unmanned Aerial Surveillance) in the UK. This figure has risen by a third within the last 12 months alone. Many of these devices can now be bought for a few hundred pounds and can record imagery. There’s important guidance on how they can be used by organisations to record personal information.

Recreational users are also encouraged to operate UAS responsibly. For example, recording should be restricted and only carried out in controlled areas where people are informed that monitoring may be taking place. It’s important that organisations understand these obligations at an early stage if they’re to remain on the right side of the law.

Jonathan Bamford: head of strategic liaison at the ICO

Jonathan Bamford: head of strategic liaison at the ICO

The updated CCTV Code also addresses long-standing issues where the consultation responses have shown that further clarification of the law is required. One such issue is the need for operators to comply with subject access requests. These requests are an important right enshrined in the Data Protection Act and allow individuals to request a record of any personal information that an organisation holds about them. This includes CCTV footage capturing their image.

However, these requests have been causing a great deal of confusion, particularly for smaller operators unaware of this area of the law. The new CCTV guide includes an expanded section explaining how these requests should be handled, when the information should be given out and details of the statutory deadline of 40 days by which time operators have to provide a full response.

Complementing the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice

We’ve designed our guidance to complement the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice published under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The Surveillance Camera Code’s ‘Guiding Principles’ apply to police forces, Police and Crime Commissioners and local authorities in England and Wales as described in the Act, and contain advice about recommended operational and technical standards that others may find useful.

The technology may change but the principles of the Data Protection Act remain the same. CCTV and other surveillance systems need to be proportionate, justifiable and secure in order to be compliant.

The updated ICO Code will help to make sure that this situation continues for the years ahead.

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ICO warns CCTV operators that use of surveillance cameras must be “necessary and proportionate”

The Information Commissioner’s Office has warned CCTV operators that surveillance cameras must only be used as a necessary and proportionate response to a real and pressing problem.

The warning comes on the same day that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published its updated CCTV Code of Practice. The update includes a look at the data protection requirements placed on the operators of new and emerging surveillance technologies, including drones and body-worn video cameras.

“The UK is one of the leading users of CCTV and other surveillance technologies in the world,” said Jonathan Bamford, the ICO’s head of strategic liaison. “The technology on the market today is able to pick out even more people to be recorded in ever greater detail. In some cases, that detail can then be compared with other databases, for instance when Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is used. This realises new opportunities for tackling problems such as crime, but also poses potential threats to privacy if cameras are just being used to record innocent members of the public without good reason.”

The ICO has moved to warn CCTV operators that the use of surveillance cameras must be "necessary and proportionate"

The ICO has moved to warn CCTV operators that the use of surveillance cameras must be “necessary and proportionate”

Bamford added: “Surveillance cameras should not be deployed as a quick fix, but rather as a proportionate response to a real and pressing problem. Installing surveillance cameras or technology like ANPR and body-worn video is often seen as the first option, but before deploying such systems we need to understand the problem and whether that’s an effective and proportionate solution. Failure to conduct proper privacy impact assessments in advance has been a common theme in our enforcement cases.”

Updated Code of Practice: the detail

The updated Code of Practice explains how CCTV and other forms of camera surveillance can be used to process people’s information. The guidance details the issues that operators should consider before installing such surveillance technology, the measures that companies should have in place to make sure an excessive amount of personal information isn’t being collected and the steps organisations should take in order to make sure captured information is kept secure and destroyed once it’s no longer required.

The ICO’s CCTV Code of Practice complements the provisions in the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice issued last year by the UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner, which applies to police forces, local authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales (as described in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012). The ICO’s guidance covers a wider area, as the requirements of the Data Protection Act apply to all sectors processing personal information across the whole of the UK (including the private sector). The Data Protection Act 1998 does not apply to individuals operating CCTV for their own domestic use.

Recent enforcement action taken by the ICO to stop the excessive use of CCTV includes an enforcement notice served on Southampton City Council after the latter required the video and audio recording of the city’s taxi passengers 24 hours a day.

The ICO also served an enforcement notice on Hertfordshire Constabulary after the force began using ANPR cameras to record every car entering and leaving the small rural town of Royston in Hertfordshire.

In both cases, the “excessive use” of surveillance cameras was reduced following the ICO’s action.

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GMB to ballot civilian staff in police services on industrial action over pay offer

The GMB Trade Union is set to ballot members employed as civilian staff in England and Wales for industrial action in a dispute over a pay offer of just 1%. Both Unison and Unite will also ballot their members on possible industrial action.

The GMB states that: “The 1% offer from the Police Staff Council is viewed as not only derisory but insulting, particularly as support staff roles are being replaced by officers.”

Staff to be balloted include Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), 999 call takers and dispatchers, fingerprint experts, criminal justice unit clerks, custody and detention officers and a wide range of operational and organisational support roles that keep police services running on a daily basis.

The GMB submitted a claim for a 3% pay increase or £500, whichever is greater, as well as a 3% increase on standby allowance. This follows a pay freeze in 2011 and 2012 and a 1% increase last year. In an informal ballot conducted during the summer, affected GMB members overwhelmingly rejected the 1% offer and indicated that they were prepared to take industrial action.

Following the consultation, the employers refused to re-open negotiations with the unions.

Job losses in police services

Commenting on this issue, Sharon Holder – the GMB’s National Officer – explained: “Following years of below-inflation pay cuts, GMB police staff have just about had enough. Jobs for elite boys and girls in blue, who can no longer work on the front line, mask the actual figure of job losses in police services.”

Holder continued: “The Police Staff Council is urged to get back around the table, engage in meaningful negotiation with support staff representatives and seriously re-consider the offer of 1% before police forces are subject to industrial action before Christmas.”

Sharon Holder: National Officer at the GMB

Sharon Holder: National Officer at the GMB

UNISON’s General Secretary Dave Prentis added: “UNISON police staff members are angry after a two-year pay freeze followed by a miserly 1% increase last year. We’re urging the employers to come back to the table and negotiate a fair pay deal.”

Prentis also stated: “As the Government’s savage cuts to policing continue to bite, police staff are being asked to do more and more as their colleagues are made redundant. In a survey of our police staff members carried out in the summer, 40% replied that they’re now struggling to pay the bills. This is no way to treat the staff who keep our communities safe.”

Unite’s National Officer Fiona Farmer said: “Police staff have faced years of below inflation pay increases and, at the same time, extensive cuts to their numbers in forces across England and Wales. Staff are angry and feel undervalued by a Government that clearly doesn’t recognise and reward these key public sector workers. Members have voted overwhelmingly to reject the 1% offer and I would urge the employers to return to the negotiating table and deliver a decent pay rise.”

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“Beware what you share” warns new CIFAS guide on social media usage

People are being warned by CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service – of the consequences of sharing too much information on social media platforms.

‘Beware What You Share’ is a new publication designed to highlight the often unexpected dangers of posting too much information online through social networking sites such as Facebook. From pointing out what a fraudster will see when someone posts their holiday details through to understanding privacy settings on popular social networking sites, ‘Beware What You Share’ points out some of the common dangers and encourages individuals to think about how information might be used by those who are not in their close circle of friends or family.

“With a new academic year in its infancy, and the festive season looming large on the horizon, the latter part of the year is invariably one where younger people, for example, will be meeting new acquaintances and creating friendships that will last a lifetime,” stated Richard Hurley, communications manager at CIFAS.

“Social media is now an essential part of that whole process, of course, but in the same way that you wouldn’t advertise all of your personal details in the pub to a group of people you have not long known, you also need to be very careful that you don’t share far too much information in the online space.”

CIFAS is urging people to be aware in terms of the information they post on social media platforms

CIFAS is urging people to be aware in terms of the information they post on social media platforms

The second publication in a planned series designed to educate young people about fraud and how to protect themselves, this new document has already been sent to universities and colleges and is available online.

The aim is not to stop social media from being used, but rather to educate young people around the potential risks they’ll face by effectively ‘living their life in public’. The guide contains eight examples of ‘seeing what a fraudster might see when looking at your social media profiles’, from highlighting that someone is away from home and that their house is empty through to where they work and details of those companies with which they have online accounts. Each small piece of information can be used to create a much larger picture, in turn increasing an individual’s chances of falling victim to fraud.

“Ask yourself, would you reveal all of this information in one chat in the pub?”

“The pressures on young people – to fit in, to socialise, to make friends and so on – are immense,” added Hurley. “Social media is undoubtedly the easiest way to do all of this, but it’s worth remembering something. Would you – in a pub, with people you were only just getting to know – tell them all about your address, holiday plans, shopping habits and the rest? No. You would not open yourself up so quickly.”

Hurley concluded: “‘Beware What You Share’ highlights very succinctly how putting too much information online is the equivalent of telling a stranger everything about yourself at a first meeting. The majority of people are, of course, simply wanting to connect and be friends, but individuals need to be aware that there are some people who are just waiting to use any information that’s revealed.”

CIFAS provides the UK’s most comprehensive databases of confirmed fraud data as well as an extensive range of fraud prevention services to over 300 organisations operational across the public and private sectors.

Member organisations share information in order to prevent fraud and emanate from a variety of sectors including banking, grant giving, credit card provision, asset finance, retail credit, mail order and online retail, insurance, telecommunications, factoring, share dealing, vetting agencies, contact centres and insurance brokering sectors.

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MITIE Group plc acquires leading screening company Procius

MITIE Group plc, the strategic outsourcing organisation, has announced the acquisition of Procius – a leading UK pre-employment screening company – from the management team.

Procius is a specialist in pre-employment screening and vetting, and has particular expertise in the aviation and transportation sectors.

This acquisition will provide MITIE’s Total Security Management business with additional niche capability and support its growth as one of the UK’s largest providers of pre-employment screening, competency management and criminal records checking services.

Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE: MITIE Group plc's CEO

Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE: MITIE Group plc’s CEO

The combined business provides solutions for over 3,000 customers across all sectors. The acquisition will add an operational hub in Basingstoke to MITIE’s well-established PeopleCert and UKCRBs businesses located at MiTec (MITIE’s technology hub in Northern Ireland).

Speaking about this latest development, Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE (MITIE Group plc’s CEO) commented: “I’m delighted to welcome the Procius employees to our rapidly growing screening and vetting business. This acquisition will significantly enhance the services that we offer to our customers, particularly in the aviation and transport sectors.”

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