Interim CCTV Regulator

Home Department written statement – made on 15th December 2009.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Minister of State (Home Office) (Crime and Policing)

I am today announcing the arrangements we are putting in place to take forward implementation of the national CCTV strategy and to approve an interim CCTV regulator with immediate effect.

CCTV enjoys a high level of public confidence in tackling crime. Home Office research published in 2005 showed that over 80 per cent. 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. CCTV played a key role in a number of investigations including the London terrorist outrages in July 2005 and the Steven Wright murders in Ipswich as well as offences such as burglaries, robberies, violence and antisocial behaviour across the country. 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. Importantly, it also aims to maximise public engagement by raising public awareness of the benefits of CCTV and accountability of owners and users of CCTV systems.

It is important that we retain and build on that high level of public confidence by demonstrating the important contribution to preventing and detecting crime and antisocial behaviour which CCTV can make. We have already announced in Building Britain's Future that we will make sure that local people have a say on the use of CCTV in their area and will be publishing guidance for crime and disorder reduction partnerships next year on communicating with their community on the role of CCTV in public protection.

It is also important that we address public concern about how CCTV is used. 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 while ensuring that personal privacy considerations are appropriately taken into account with supporting safeguards and protections. The establishment of a permanent CCTV regulator would rightly be a matter for Parliament. That is why we are, at this stage, considering the regulatory arrangements function through an interim appointment and the revised governance structure for implementation of the national CCTV strategy.

The interim appointment will be for a period of up to 12 months. The appointment is an important step in implementation of the national CCTV strategy. The interim regulator will work with the national CCTV strategy board on six key areas. These are to: develop national standards for the installation and use of CCTV in public space; determine training requirements for users and practitioners; engage with the public and private sector in determining the need for and potential content of any regulatory framework; raise public awareness and understanding of how CCTV operates and how it contributes to tackling crime and increasing public protection; review the existing recommendations of the national CCTV strategy and advise the strategy board on implementation, timelines and cost and development of an effective evidence base; and promote public awareness of the complaints process and criteria for complaints to the relevant agencies ( for example, Information Commissioner, local authority or private organisation) or how to deal with complaints relating to technical standards.

The appointment of the Forensic Science Regulator will bring to his CCTV role the expertise, knowledge, and standing he has gained in operating a suitable framework for forensic services. He will play a leading role in identifying and helping meet the needs of both users and the public.

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.

Part of the process of promoting greater accountability is engaging directly with key stakeholders. We will shortly be establishing an independent advisory group with representatives from business, CCTV operators, community and third sector groups to monitor and provide direction on implementing the national strategy. The advisory group will advise the interim CCTV regulator and the national CCTV strategy board. These arrangements provide for partnership working at strategic and neighbourhood level. Through these new arrangements, we intend to ensure that CCTV continues to be an important tool available to communities to help tackle crime and antisocial behaviour.