Police Requirements Overlooked

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Thousands of companies across the UK could find themselves unable to prosecute thieves, vandals and intruders – despite having CCTV footage of break-ins.

This is because UK police requirements for digital CCTV systems published by the Home Office last year are largely being overlooked. And without the high quality footage needed to pursue a criminal investigation, UK businesses could be losing millions of pounds by unwittingly increasing their security risks and even invalidating insurance cover.

The new guidelines were published over a year ago, but many companies seem to be unaware that there has been a change in requirements. Even amongst those that know there have been changes, there is widespread confusion about what’s required.

Effectively, this means that CCTV users are running systems that are inadequate, as footage would often not be sufficient for use by the police in any criminal investigation. These companies need to update their understanding of what’s required and update their equipment before they are left counting the cost.

In the Home Office guidelines, analogue CCTV video is no longer recommended as the preferred choice by police in criminal investigations and, when selecting a digital alternative, users are advised to consider quality, storage, export of images and playback facilities.

Under the revised requirements, users must ensure that their CCTV system is capable of storing at least 31 days worth of recorded footage in a secure environment. It should be capable of exporting both video and stills to a removable storage medium at original quality and the time and date should be accurately available for each picture.

CCTV software should have variable speed control, display single and multiple cameras, permit recordings from each camera to be searched by time and date and allow printing or saving of specific pictures with the time and date of recording.

It’s important that companies consider where their site is vulnerable before they specify a new CCTV system and select a product that will provide a high enough resolution picture from all relevant vantage points.

Recorded pictures and print outs are not as clear as live images on some systems so a full test viewing is essential and, though the police have not set a minimum quality requirement on CCTV evidence, carrying out a test to check how recognisable individuals are on the system is advisable.

The purpose of the guidelines is to make gathering CCTV evidence easier and ensure that it is more reliable in court. All CCTV cameras and recording equipment from CCTV Surveillance are fully compliant with Home Office guidelines, so providing the police with evidence-standard images is within reach of all CCTV users.

Unfortunately, at the moment, it seems to be companies that have found their systems to be inadequate following a break-in that are upgrading to effective digital systems, however, we would urge all companies that rely on their CCTV for security to ask themselves whether what they have in place is really enough.

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