The UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s inaugural Annual Report outlines both the work the Commissioner, Tony Porter, has completed and his future plans.
The report explains how the Commissioner:
*continues to promote the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice to relevant and non-relevant authorities
*has launched an easy to use self-assessment tool for any organisation to demonstrate how they are meeting the principles contained in the Code
*has continued the work of his predecessor, Andrew Rennison, to simplify the CCTV standards framework in order to encourage the industry and operators of CCTV systems to meet minimum standards
*will be issuing guidance to users of domestic CCTV following his concerns about the growing number of complaints around the use of CCTV at people’s homes
Foreword to the Annual Report
In the Foreword to the Annual Report, in which he addresses Home Secretary Theresa May, Tony Porter states:
“I am pleased to present to you the first Annual Report from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner. This report covers the period from the appointment of the first Surveillance Camera Commissioner (on 13 September 2012). I am grateful to my predecessor Andrew Rennison who undertook the functions of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner until his departure in February 2014. Much of his work is reflected in the body of the report and he has kindly attached an open letter which follows this Foreword.
“I intend to ensure that the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice (PoFA Code) is promoted to relevant authorities under S33 (5) of the Protection of Freedoms Act so that they fully understand and fulfil their duty to have regard to the PoFA Code. I also intend to explore other opportunities to promote the PoFA Code to non-relevant authorities, thereby seeking voluntary adoption across a broad range of sectors.
“According to a survey conducted by the British Security Industry Association on the number of cameras in the UK (published in July 2013), just 1 in 70 of CCTV systems are state owned. This reinforces that a major part of my role is to reach out to others who use overt surveillance in public space – not solely relevant authorities. I will detail plans later in the report, but I have already met with universities and spoken to some residential social landlords and the British Retail Consortium and will continue to reach out to others to whom the PoFA Code is applicable.
“The use of CCTV in domestic environments continues to cause concern among the public and is a high generator of complaints across various agencies. With a view to showing leadership in the sector, I have said publicly that I intend to explore ways of working with manufacturers, retailers, installers, consumers and the Information Commissioner’s Office to impart the principles of the PoFA Code.
“That said, there remains much to do to achieve that goal. I have worked with some relevant authorities, particularly public space CCTV managers in local authorities that show enormous enterprise in adopting the principles within the PoFA Code. However, it has been brought to our attention that the application of the PoFA Code is not consistent throughout all relevant authorities. We have been made aware of instances where some traffic enforcement officers, often using the same cameras as those used to deliver crime and disorder reduction strategies, do not deliver the same level of compliance to the PoFA Code. Accordingly, where dual use CCTV Operations Rooms are in use I intend to raise the obligations within the PoFA Code to encourage compliance.
“There remain a large number of surveillance camera system users who are not under a duty to have regard to the PoFA Code. By focusing on the larger scale operators via seminars, webinars and personal engagement, I intend to raise the profile of the PoFA Code. My aim is to secure voluntary adoption and achieve surveillance by consent across the broadest range of organisations.
“Application of the PoFA Code not only delivers benefits to society in terms of privacy, security of public safety, transparency and reassurance but also benefits business through better performance and cost reduction. This will be my mantra going forward.”