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Interviews

PCMA chair urges feedback

Among the visitors to ST19 Birmingham was Tony Gleason, the CCTV manager for Bournemouth council, pictured right. As he’s also chairman of the public space CCTV managers association the PCMA, we took the chance to hear the latest.

Tony has been chairman since January 2018. PCMA has always met where its members are; its April pair of meetings are at the West Midlands public transport control room in Birmingham, then Liverpool, where vice-chairman Paula McKendrick, of Liverpool City Council is host. Tony reports PCMA has some 150 members covering 200 local government areas in England and Wales.

They meet at least twice a year and hear from the likes of the data protection regulator the ICO and Tony Porter the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (pictured left), also a speaker at ST19 at the NEC; and Mike Gillespie of Advent IM (an exhibitor at ST19), who chairs the cyber strand of the commissioner’s work. Tony Gleason chairs the local authority strand.

Like so many other industry groups, the PCMA’s more informal and online side matters also – members can raise issues on a discussion group, knowing others will understand and someone may well have a solution, or advice. Besides actual budget and staff cuts during austerity, local government CCTV like some other departments has also seen managers taking charge from other specialisms, such as community safety; they may need help on the technical side of the service. Under austerity, then, even as CCTV as a non-statutory service has been under particular threat of cuts or even extinction, PCMA has been more necessary than ever.

While not to deny austerity, spend on CCTV has gone on. Even reversal of switch-offs is happening, as in the Welsh coastal town of Aberystwyth, for example, as featured in the March print issue of Professional Security magazine.

As Tony sets out, KPIs are basic to knowing what work a control room does; operator-generated incidents (is the operator just sitting in his chair, or using his head to pick up what looks not quite right, or recalling something suspicious at the same spot the day before); calls from pubwatch and shopwatch groups (are pubs and shops reporting all they could promptly?); media seized by police, and reviews of video by police (are police getting good outcomes – an early guilty plea by a thug beating someone up on the market place on a Friday night saves the victim the upset of giving evidence, and the state the cost of a trial – but does anyone ever tell the council it was thanks to its CCTV evidence?). Hence Tony’s appeal generally for police to give feedback on where CCTV footage has been of use, whether to prosecute or prompt an early guilty plea from an offender – itself a saving to the wider criminal justice system. All such feedback helps justify CCTV to council executives and councillors.

For the full interview with Tony visit the April 2019 print issue of Professional Security; turn to page 42, which you can read online here.

About the PCMA

The Public CCTV Managers Association meets next on April 3 in Birmingham and April 4 in Liverpool; visit www.pcma.uk.com.


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