SIA Course Description for Public Space Surveillance – Closed Circuit Television (PSS CCTV)
The CCTV Control Room and the Private Security Industry
CCTV Operations (Public Space Surveillance); SIA licensed CCTV operators are responsible for observing, recording and processing images obtained through surveillance of public spaces. CCTV operators are usually based in control rooms.
In the past, surveillance of public spaces was not the role of the private security personnel. CCTV control room operations and public space patrol duties can now be carried out by private security personnel. This private security expansion of the role brings the public police and private security personnel into regular contact with each other as partners.
Public police/private security partnership will enhance:
Exchange of information
Response to emergency calls
Assistance to private security personnel in areas they lack authority to deal with problems independently; such as dealing with disorder, breaches of peace, knives and firearms cases.
The law allows the police to establish both business and professional relationships with the private sector and underwrite activities of the private security personnel in public policing functions. Private security personnel must take direct instructions from their employers and not from the public police.
Stands for Closed Circuit Television
An electronic surveillance equipment
Receives images by way of data or signal
This is then processed within the equipment
The signal when processed becomes recognisable through a monitor or other device with screen
Most effective crime prevention tool in shops, car parks and other enclosed areas
Wired or wireless link to recorder and screen/monitor
DVR recorder (digital)
CVR recorder (analogue)
Can be integrated to work with burglar/intruder alarms
CCTV training became a mandatory requirement for CCTV licence following the effect of Security Industry Act 2001 establishing the Security Industry Authority – the SIA. The Security Industry Authority therefore made it compulsory for all CCTV operators to hold a Security Industry Authority (SIA) Licence if their roles involve Public Space Surveillance (PSS CCTV).
This led to the introduction of a modular (SIA) CCTV training course combined to form a programme suited to the occupational needs of a CCTV operator – designed to introduce learners to the CCTV control room environment and relevant legislations.
A good understanding of the legislations and codes of practice is important given that the CCTV operators’ main task is to monitor the activities of members of the public in a private or public space or identifying a person – for preventing and deterring crime by way of recording evidence for use in a court of law. To be able to carry out this role you’ll need a SIA licence for CCTV operators.
Most CCTV control rooms are owned by the Police and Local Authorities monitoring activities in crime black spots and the town-centres. The Local Authority control rooms are concerned with preventing crime and disorder; including antisocial behaviours and other public order offences, dealing with incidents such as intimidations, nuisance neighbour’s, litters, dumped rubbish, (fly-tipping) graffiti/vandalism, harassment, including racial harassment, noisy behaviour, abandoned and/or untaxed vehicles, drug dealing, alcohol, tobacco or fireworks being sold to children, drinking on the street etc.
Nowadays CCTV images can be accessed remotely online without the need to be in front of the CCTV monitor. Remote Video Response Centres (RVRC) utilise this technology to deter criminals by transmitting audio messages from the monitoring centre to the location where the crime is taking place – providing some of the benefits of manned on-site presence.
This new technology cannot completely replace manned guarding and cannot be as efficient as an on-site security guard with relevant security training, but offers high value evidence compared to the older system used only to view and record crime. With RVRC the operator is able to inform any response teams of the changing location of the criminal using a good communication system, ensuring that response teams are not exposed to unnecessary danger (in line with British Standards, such as BS8418). Alarm Receiving Centres (ARC) and CCTV control rooms function as call centres contacting relevant emergency services where necessary. The Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) policy infers that CCTV systems which do not meet the standard would receive limited or no Police response. One of the advantages of manned guarding over CCTV remote monitoring and Alarm Receiving Centres ARC the ability of a trained and SIA licensed Door Supervisor or Security Guard to physically deter crime and deal with most situations on-site thereby minimising the need for emergency services.
On the other hand, security and emergency systems help the Security Officer by:
Allowing for better monitoring of vulnerable areas
Providing additional ‘eyes and ears’ to the information and evidence gathering process
Providing accurate information, enabling efficient and effective control of emergency situations
Providing security officers with necessary information upon which to act, without the need to expose themselves to risk or harm
Increase flexibility to the way in which security patrols can be undertaken
This implies that human (SIA licenced CCTV) operators, with the required CCTV training and qualification; on-site security officers and the CCTV systems, all need to be in use to maximize security.
Use of CCTV evidence in a criminal court and Public Protection
To avoid misuse and maintain public acceptance of CCTV evidence it is important that appropriate measures are taken to comply with data protection and privacy legislations. Though in-house CCTV operators (employed directly by the CCTV owner) do not require SIA licence by law, nor do they require the mandatory CCTV training, it is the responsibility of the CCTV systems owners, i.e. the Police and Local Authorities to ensure that their CCTV operators are trained to security industry standards as regulated by the Security Industry Authority (the SIA) whether they are in-house or contract CCTV operators. CCTV operators can be required to match police photograph of offenders with CCTV images to identify a person. CCTV images can also be shown to potential witnesses for identification purposes in court.
Under the Data protection act 1998 and Crime and Disorder Act 1998 CCTV images can only be disclosed to third parties for the purpose of crime prevention and detection. The CCTV code of practice states that CCTV images cannot be provided to the media unless the public are likely to provide information concerning a criminal incident. If disclosed for educational and deterrent reasons the individuals in the image should be disguised. This is to ensure that image disclosure and CCTV operations comply with Data Protection laws and privacy laws under the Human Rights Act 1998.
Preservation of Evidence
There is need to preserve all evidence from crime scene to the point it reaches the courtroom to preserve integrity. CCTV evidence is handled in a similar may to that of a retailer receiving new stock, identifying them by their origin and labelling them to ensure customer have the correct information about the product they are about to buy. If the labelling is poorly made, then the customer would begin to worry about the integrity of the product.
Security personnel are not required to handle evidence. However, they may have access to media containing evidence like CCTV DVD or tapes, which the security personnel must handle in such a way that the evidence does not lose integrity. For the sake of integrity, custody of evidence must be controlled and documented by security personnel at all times.
CCTV Regulations – Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act gives members of the public the right to obtain information held by public authorities. All public authorities and companies wholly owned by public authorities have obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. Public authorities are required to make public the nature of information they hold including statistics and how they were obtained. Data Protection and Freedom of Information Acts are both enforced from the office of the Information Commissioner. CCTV operations, installations and processing of images must comply with the industry code of practice as regulated by the office of the information commissioner.
Data Protection Act 1998 – sets out how data must be processed shared held or obtained. Individuals have a right to request copies of images held about them.
Human Rights Act 1998 – article 8 of HRA states that everyone has right to respect of private and family life.
Investigative Procedure – Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 sets standard for collection and processing of images for use in a court of law; and also, the sharing of personal data by authorities.
The Private Security Industry Act 2001 – Requires members of the Private Security Industry in England, Wales and Scotland to hold SIA license. CCTV operators employed directly by the Police or Local Authorities (in-house) will not require SIA licence training for CCTV operations, but CCTV operators supplied to them by a security contractor must hold a valid SIA license obtained by successfully completing a 3-day CCTV training course.
It is important to understand that CCTV operation involves more than just sitting in front of monitoring equipment in a control room observing images. The right SIA CCTV training ensures that the public are protected, and laws are not breached. The rate of technological advancement especially CCTV equipment with automatic recognition technology has troubled civil liberty organizations concerned with privacy and liberty.
Also, Equality and Diversity as a module in the SIA CCTV training course serves to educate operators on the need to treat everyone equally during CCTV monitoring operations. As society cannot completely rid itself of prejudice there is a tendency that consciously or unconsciously, operators may target sub-groups like teenagers particularly from ethnic minorities; with crimes by other sub-groups left undetected. This in effect is against the overall objective of CCTV use in public protection; preventing and deterring crime. Through SIA CCTV training, CCTV operators will be equipped with the necessary skills and professionalism needed to carry out CCTV operations thereby maintaining public support for the CCTV schemes.
There was no statutory basis for legal control of CCTV surveillance over public areas until 01 March 2000 when the Data Protection Act 1998 came into force. The Information Commissioner’s Code of Practice on Public Space Surveillance CCTV has the purpose of assisting CCTV operators understand their legal obligations whilst also enhancing public confidence. As we already know, improving public confidence in those providing security services by way of encouraging skills and professionalism is the main reason SIA was established.
Role of a Data Controller
All CCTV images are held in their respective schemes by a Data Controller whose main responsibility is to adhere to the CCTV code of practice for recording, processing and disclosure of CCTV images. The data controller is responsible for dealing with disclosure requests by “data subjects” and follows a process of identifying the data subject before images could be disclosed. The data controller reserves the right not to comply with any requests where pre-conditions have not been met; and cannot disclose images where such disclosure could prejudice prevention and detection of crime; apprehension and prosecution of offenders. Otherwise CCTV images cannot be held for more than 31 days and any requests for disclosure by data subjects must be dealt with by the data controller within 40 days of the request. The CCTV operator serves as a customer service link between members of the public and the data controller by carrying out liaison roles with other key partners in the security industry i.e. Police; thus, the Call Centre role of a CCTV control room in the prevention and detection of crime.
It is therefore imperative that an aspiring CCTV operator completely understands their future roles and responsibilities as informed by public expectations. It is public confidence that will continue to sustain CCTV surveillance in places where public have free access and CCTV licence (badge) should literally serve as a public statement and declaration that the holder of a CCTV license understands the CCTV code of practice and has the required level of skills (initially obtained through CCTV training, developed continuously through experience) and on-going professionalism in this public role of CCTV monitoring as aimed by the Security Industry Authority – “the SIA”.
How to obtain a SIA CCTV licence and become a CCTV operator If you have been able to read in full, the above article on CCTV you are on course to becoming a SIA licence holder for PSS CCTV operations.
To get SIA licence for CCTV operators you must attend a SIA training course for CCTV and obtain a level 2 qualification. This entry level qualification aims to introduce you to the world of Public Space Surveillance CCTV operations. The need for continuous professional development through on-site CCTV control room training and experience cannot be over emphasized given that CCTV technology like other electronic systems is changing fast; and over time CCTV code of practice may need to be updated as a result, to ensure that quality and evidential value of images are maintained.
The SIA CCTV course is composed of 3 mandatory units:
Unit 1 – Working in the Private Security Industry
Unit 2 – Knowledge and skills based course covering:
The Roles and Responsibilities of the CCTV Operator and Other CCTV Staff
Codes of Practice, Operational Procedures and Guidelines
CCTV Equipment and its Operation
Control Room Communications and Access Control
Dealing with Incidents
CCTV Surveillance Techniques
Fire and Emergency Procedures
Health and Safety at Work
Unit 3 – Practical Assessment
CCTV training is required by the SIA for CCTV licence. CCTV training course as required by the SIA includes a common core unit – working in the private security industry, roles and responsibilities of a CCTV operator (unit 2) and practical assessment portfolio (unit 3) covering the practical tasks of a CCTV operator including procedures for monitoring, processing, storing and disclosing CCTV images while maintaining the evidential value of all documentary evidence including CCTV recorded images and implementing Audit Trail.
British Standards Institution (2018) CCTV Related Standards, shop.bsigroup.comrds (accessed 6/03/2018)