On the 11-12th November, the team from icomply will be attending the next ‘Making the Most of CCTV’ seminar. We caught up with Derek Maltby ahead of the seminar to learn what delegate can expect and the themes of the talks.
Derek: morning to you
C: Thanks for your time today and I know you’re doing the last minute arrangements for the seminar on Monday / Tuesday next week. For our listeners do you want to kick off and talk about what people can expect from the conference and exhibition, thinking a bit about the speakers.
D: We’ve got a really educational line up of speakers and probably one of the best line ups we’ve ever had. We’ve got some highlights, which are the Deputy Chief Constable from British Transport Police. He represents the Association of Chief Police Officers and the National Strategy was written 6 years ago. People are saying that there were some great ideas and recommendations, and what’s happened to that. So he’s will be updating us with the latest how we take that national strategy forward.
Another interesting topic is the Chief Constable from Avon and Somerset Constabulary ,Nick Gargan QPM. His topic is ‘Who should foot the bill for public space CCTV?’ This is a question we hear frequently from local authorities who generally run public space surveillance systems around town centres and the evidence they get is generally used by the police to detect crime or at least convict criminals and about 80% of the use of the public space CCTV goes to the police.
The councils say why are we paying for this why aren’t the Police, as we are saving them investigation time and saving them from knocking on doors to ask people if they saw anything and all of those sorts of things.
They would argue perhaps it just more evidence that they have to go and find the source of, so it’s a double edge sword, because there’s more evidence out there and it takes more time and perhaps they’d rather the genie was back in the bottle and CCTV wasn’t there and they’d resort to old methods.
C: Do you think that would change in time in terms of who should foot the bill or is that more longer term?
D: I don’t think it will change as the Police are having to make drastic cuts in there budgets and lose and reduce Police Officer numbers and civilian support staff numbers. So I can’t see that they are going to say ‘here’s half a million pounds to run that CCTV system’. For one client that we work for we reported that they should keep the system, but they decided to half, to twelve hours a day and half the 24/7 that they use to run. I had a call this week to say that they have got to consider turning it off and the investment in millions could be lost. When you think what will happen to that evidence, who will seek it out? What will happen to crime? Will anti social behaviour become a thing where by some many more people don’t get a satisfactory results for attacks in the street
C: Do you think at the conference on Monday that discussion will happen?
D: I think so. I think there will be a lot of strong opinions from CCTV managers who know better than I do what they are supplying just makes the case so solid and not only does it save Police investigation time but it saves court time as well.
I heard actually from that same authority that someone was actually randomly attacked in the street and it was captured on CCTV but it wasn’t being proactively monitored at the time.
It could have been attempted murder as this was an innocent bystander attacked and the two people people who attacked him were both sentenced to five year in prison. That would have gone undetected if there was no CCTV, but clearly the CCTV doesn’t captured everything. But that could be an attempted murder which is undetected because of the description of somebody who actually saw couldn’t remember anything about it anyway. So had it not been for CCTV evidence that person would not have been identified and was a local known criminal, but would we have known that if it were not for cameras?
C: That’s a very good point and I’m sure with the austerity measures coming further down the line, it’s only going to become a far more heated topic I’d imagine?
D: It’s the one people are always asking and actually the topic has been watered down slightly by the Chief Constable and I don’t blame him as it’s more divisive as it was originally ‘What don’t the Police pay for the provision for public space CCTV’ and that is a loaded question. Who should foot the bill? Perhaps it’s an assumption and he represents APCOA and I believe financial matters and that being the case I suspect that he would have a good argument why police shouldn’t foot the bill because they are trying to do some much with so little and have to make cuts. So as much as they’d like to have it I’m sure, if it was utopia, they’d say ‘sure happy to do that’ but the reality and it’s making choices. CCTV is none statutory and is one of those things which could go.
C: In terms of the surveillance cameras code of practice and the early tentative steps, how do you think it’s been accepted and what’s the early feedback?
D: The code of practice highlights many times the pressing need for cameras and the information commission also has his own code of practice which says that there has to be reason to put the cameras in and these reasons should be reviewed after a period, which is normally every year, just to make sure the original reasons for installing public space cameras is still justified. We are using this code of practice to bring to the attention of our local authority clients that they should consider what they have and is it still necessary and is there a pressing need. In fact one of our clients of their 85 cameras we have suggested they could remove 17 that no longer serve a local purpose. That would avoid them spending £70,000 unnecessarily on cameras that they never use. By the same token we are working for another authority that they think they have got 200 cameras but they are not sure what they’ve got. Until you’re sure what you’ve got out there you can’t say whether it serves a purpose and people were quick to put cameras in but slow to pull them out. If we can demonstrate good management by questioning every camera and what it achieves, and reducing some and people can see that we’re being sensible in the way we’re spending public money to make that it’s not there unnecessarily with the ongoing costs.
C: I suppose that’s a good point and making sure that you’re getting the best us of the cameras and redeploying them where perhaps there are areas which need further surveillance.
D: Exactly, operators know where the hotspots are and hotspots that they can’t view and quick to say we need a camera there. If you want one there and you had to give one up, which one would it be and they’ll know which ones don’t give them any data. So you put the emphasis on them to say you can’t have any more but you can trade them off and that way you keep on top of the cameras which may have served a purpose once and the pub has shut, or whatever the reason, things change. We carry on spending the money on transmission on cameras that no one bothers to look at. If we’re recording this information which no one bothers to review, then let’s question everything we do.
C: You were saying you have got 200 people registered for the conference?
D: Yes just under 200, we’ve 110 delegates and then you’ve got speakers and exhibitors etc. so it’s pushing 200.
C: Thanks for your time