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Every month in the print issue we feature four pages of ‘spending the budget’ – who is using what product and service, to offer ideas for our security manager, retail loss prevention, installer and consultant and specifier readers.
Since Conservative and then Labour Governments in the 1990s and early 2000s gave central government money for local government to spend on capital costs of CCTV cameras and control rooms, it’s been for councils to afford the upkeep of their control rooms and kit generally and to pay monitoring staff. As CCTV whether for crime prevention or traffic management is not a statutory requirement for local authorities, CCTV has been cut like other public services in the 2010s during public sector austerity. While not that many councils have switched off the power altogether – and those that have are mainly small and rural councils – local government has looked for ways to make CCTV control rooms ‘revenue neutral’, to use the jargon. Or simply councils have sought to spend less. That has meant, as we reported in our October 2014 issue, outsourcing to a private contractor; or cutting the number of councils, or ending 24-7 monitoring. As the Surveillance Camera Commissioner has noted, most of the CCTV in the UK is in private hands (pictured; an on-street camera in central London) and not public.
As we reported in May 2014, hundreds of councils have used what civil liberties and privacy campaigners have termed ‘spy cars’, besides static CCTV, to raise hundreds of millions of pounds in revenue from on-street parking enforcement, yet public space CCTV has supposedly been about community safety and protecting the public.
It’s one thing to have the equipment; it’s quite another to make something in good time of what it tells you. For instance, the December 2014 issue of Professional Security featured a one-hour online training course by the official Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure. The interactive e-learning course for CCTV operators was meant to answer why it is often difficult to spot suspect behaviours; what affects operators – their vision and memory; and what are the ways of overcoming these restrictions.