CCTV systems representing a substantial IT investment have been under threat from myriad sources; from the Deputy Prime Minister through to Big Brother Watch, a perception has been created that the public does not want public space CCTV systems and that they consider them to be both intrusive and an infringement of civil liberties.
Since the mid-90s tens of millions of pounds have been invested in CCTV cameras, complex powerful networks, IP monitoring platforms and vast amounts of data storage.
In response to Nick Clegg’s assault on CCTV a number of organisations (including Metronet) agreed to sponsor a survey of public opinion under the auspices of the CCTV User Group – an independent organisation representing the interests of CCTV Users and manufacturers.
The findings are in stark contrast to the views normally put forward by pressure groups and a minority of MPs.
• 90% of survey respondents support the use of Public Area CCTV by Local authorities and Public Bodies;
• 82% believe CCTV saves money by reducing Police and Court Time;
• 80% of respondents believe that clearly visible CCTV managed by Local Authorities and Public Bodies does not infringe on their privacy rights;
• 76% consider there is the right amount or too few Public Area CCTV cameras currently operating;
• 71% believe that CCTV in public areas makes them feel safer and reduces crime;
• 70% are against any removal of CCTV cameras by public bodies to meet Local Government budget reductions.
Metronet Business Development Manager, Kate Rennicks, recently moved from Manchester City Council to join Metronet and in making the jump from the public to the private sector is well positioned to comment.
“Having been responsible for the management of public CCTV throughout a major UK city, I have always been conscious of the need to implement and manage multi-agency CCTV in a professional and empathetic manner.
“I found Mr. Clegg’s comments challenging the use of CCTV frankly to be insulting.
“It would appear that he is out of step with the feelings of the UK public and has no understanding of the difference that well managed CCTV systems can make to the lives of our communities.”
With more than one thousand cameras supported across its network infrastructure, Metronet provides an indication of the size of the industry in an IT context.
“Using wireless technology,” continued Rennicks. “Local Authorities and Police Forces are able to deploy and redeploy CCTV cameras in line with local crime priorities.
“For the first time, CCTV can be used dynamically, where it can be of most benefit to the community.”
Offering IP Fibre equivalency, Metronet supported camera links gather evidential quality CCTV imaging and afford Police Forces and Local Authorities greater flexibility when addressing crime and disorder.
From a communications network perspective, Metronet claim that there are few applications that are more technically and strategically demanding.