Feeds

Government lets CCTV watchdog off the leash

Will ask who, what, where...but not why

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Government has appointed a regulator to oversee the use of CCTV technology amidst growing concerns about surveillance and the effectiveness of the cameras. A minister said he hoped the appointment would "address public concern" about CCTV use.

Forensic Science Regulator Andrew Rennison will become the interim CCTV Regulator for up to 12  months, when Parliament will appoint a permanent replacement.

"It is … important that we address public concern about how CCTV is used," said minister of state for crime and policing David Hanson in a written ministerial statement. "I am, therefore, pleased to announce the appointment of the Forensic Science Regulator, Andrew Rennison, as the Interim CCTV Regulator with immediate effect."

"The interim CCTV Regulator will advise the Government on matters surrounding the use of CCTV in public places, including the need for a regulatory framework overseen by a permanent CCTV regulator, which enables the police, local authorities and other agencies to help deliver safer neighbourhoods whilst ensuring that personal privacy considerations are appropriately taken into account with supporting safeguards and protections," he said.

Civil liberties groups and privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office have long expressed concern about the increasing use of CCTV.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee warned earlier this year that growing public and private surveillance was damaging the fundamental relationship between Government and the people.

"The UK now has more CCTV cameras and a bigger National DNA Database than any other country. There can be no justification for this gradual but incessant creep towards every detail about us being recorded and pored over by the state," said Lord Goodlad, the Committee's chairman.

"The huge rise in surveillance and data collection by the state and other organisations risks undermining the long standing traditions of privacy and individual freedom which are vital for democracy," said Goodlad. "If the public are to trust that information about them is not being improperly used there should be much more openness about what data is collected, by whom and how it is used."

An internal report by London's Metropolitan Police Service was reported earlier this year as concluding that only one crime was solved for every 1,000 CCTV cameras, and that only eight out of 269 suspected robbers in a month were caught by the cameras.

Hanson said, though, that the Government had its own, unpublished, research which demonstrated public support for CCTV.

"Home Office research published in 2005 showed that over 80% of respondents supported the use of CCTV to deal with crime in their neighbourhood. A similar high level of confidence is reflected in the IPSOS MORI poll conducted last year and which we will be publishing shortly," he said.

The appointment of a regulator is part of the Government's overall plans for the monitoring of CCTV use, its National CCTV Strategy.

"The changes are aimed at ensuring that those involved across the CCTV industry, whether from the public or the private sector, can be actively involved in the development and implementation of national standards on the installation and use of CCTV," said Hanson.

The regulator's role will be based on advice rather than intervention, though. "While the Interim CCTV Regulator will not have responsibility for deciding whether individual cameras are appropriately sited or how they are used, he will be able to help explain to the public how they can complain about intrusive or ineffective CCTV placement or usage," said Hanson.

See: The National CCTV Strategy

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.