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Council CCTV cuts put private security in the spotlight

The UK government's surveillance camera watchdog has claimed that local authorities across the country are slashing their budgets for CCTV, potentially making it difficult for police forces to investigate serious crimes against individuals and businesses.

Speaking to the Independent last month (May 22nd), surveillance camera commissioner Tony Porter said that councils in England and Wales are responding to government cuts by switching off large swathes of the UK's 100,000 public sector CCTV devices - a strategy he warned would create a "postcode lottery" for crime detection and intervention.

Council CCTV cuts put private security in the spotlight

“There are an increasing number of examples where councils and employees are citing a lack of money as being the rationale to reduce the service or completely change its composition," Mr Porter commented, "and that does concern me."

The commissioner added: "Most people recognise the utility of CCTV for supporting law enforcement. To degrade the capacity may have an impact on police … [and] how police gather evidence."

Responding to the news, the British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) said the council cuts underlined the role of private security in protecting individuals, homes and businesses.

Simon Adcock, chairman of the organisation's CCTV section, aired his support for a comprehensive public sector surveillance camera infrastructure. However, he tempered this by acknowledging that not all CCTV is effective, and not all effective CCTV is controlled by local authorities and other government bodies.

"I agree that Councils should be reviewing their CCTV at scheme and camera level to ensure they are still meeting a need," he said. "If they are not, then rationalising cameras is a sensible step and saving money is the natural consequence of having fewer cameras."

BSIA research conducted in 2013 revealed that just one out of every 70 surveillance cameras in the UK is owned by a public body, demonstrating the role already played by private sector CCTV in deterring criminal activity and supplying evidence of crimes to police forces.

Mr Adcock advised that to make the UK a safer place to live and do business, "joined-up communication between ... the private [security] sector and the police" will potentially be more beneficial to the country than council-owned CCTV and other public sector security infrastructure.

The role of private security in protecting businesses

The business advantages of investing in private security were underlined in a recent report from NG Bailey's IT Services division, which drew attention to how provisions such as CCTV and manned guarding can boost employee morale at the same time as it protects high-value assets.

Seen by Talk Business, the survey showed that three in five Britons (60 per cent) fear the theft of their personal effects from their workplace, as well as the presence of unauthorised and even dangerous individuals in the office.

However, the same figure (60 per cent) told pollsters how they would feel more comfortable conducting their day-to-day work activities were their employer to implement more comprehensive security systems.

Is your business doing enough to detect and prevent crime, protect assets and human capital, and boost employee morale through security? Get in touch with Storm Operative Security and we'll be happy to talk about your requirements.

Posted by Andrew Miller

Image by ThinkStock

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