Wednesday, 15 October 2008


A little CCTV knowledge is a dangerous thing

As part of the daily work on my main CCTV information website ( ), I generally go through a couple of hundred or so Closed Circuit TV related news stories, in what passes for an average week.

Now it doesn't really take that much imagination to accept that apart from the numerous "video surveillance coming to smalltown" stories, being supplemented by a never ending procession of "state of the art" products that will revolutionise CCTV as it is today, every now and again a story will pop up that is ever so slightly out of the norm, although not necessarily for the most obvious of reasons.

So it is with this apparently innocuous news piece from the UK's 
The writer having picked up on some industry chatter about British Standard BS8418 having a negative effect on many older "legacy" CCTV systems, has somewhat inconveniently extrapolated what is in practice a relatively small problem, and elevated it into the realms of borderline video surveillance armageddon.

The story relates to the suggestion that the new British Standard for remotely monitored CCTV, in other words, systems that are mostly connected to Central (monitoring) Stations, will only guarantee a police response if the sites security camera equipment fully complies with the latest standard.

Unfortunately, whilst the number of cameras being remotely monitored here in the UK, is only a tiny percentage of the overall numbers in use, the article rather confusingly implies that failure to comply may have far wider and more serious consequences for surveillance systems in general.

The one thing we can say with certainty about CCTV, is that very few users have that much interest in the subject, and of those even fewer have a strong grasp of the basics. Where journalists are perhaps innocently inclined towards grabbing sensationalist claims, and then running off towards the horizon leaving a trail of confusion behind them, it certainly doesn't help to clarify an already misunderstood situation.

This article is by no means unique in it's dearth of factual clarity, but then reporting what's wrong is almost always more readable, than maintaining complete and total accuracy in what they write.

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Yeah like the police are going to turn up to an incident within 3 hours whether there is cctv evidence or not !!! I spent the best part of 10 years designing and selling cctv for probably the largest distributor in the UK and personally i'd be more concerned about the number of systems not complying with the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the number of operators who have no idea or rather completely ignore their legal obligations as defined by the DPA and the CCTV Code of Practice. see or
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