Douglas Borough Council operate and maintain a public Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system in several areas in the borough. The reasons for installation are permitted by Data Protection Act provisions; generally public CCTV is allowed for the following purposes: Prevention and Detection of Crime; Apprehension and Prosecution of Offenders; Community Safety. Community Safety can be explained as a purpose to reduce the public’s fear of crime, to add more protection to public property or assets and as a tool to note and quickly rectify dangers or difficulties to the general public. Such dangers might include damaged infrastructure, street furniture, buildings or signs in busy highways.
In recent years there has been major criticism of some local authorities because of a substantial increase in CCTV coverage, which was never considered properly and, therefore, probably unlikely to be justified. The Council’s system and current trials of equipment, have undergone a strict process of justification before installation. A matrix was produced and certain criteria considered, including history of criminal activity, vulnerability of sections of the public, asset protection and quality of life issues, whether anti-social behaviour or general nuisance. The matrix created a Priority Score with a potential camera location and, more importantly, its field of view. All CCTV cameras are located to ensure privacy is maintained – this is probably the most important, over-arching consideration.
Protocols, Code of Practice and fully trained staff, mainly police officers and their support staff, will be used to monitor the cameras live during specific events or busy periods. Similarly, only suitably trained staff, will be permitted to research, retrieve and archive evidential images. Strict handling procedures are required for evidential purposes. An audit system to ensure all viewing of the Douglas CCTV is necessary and authorised is in place.
Douglas Borough Council has tried to ensure that our CCTV systems are fit for purpose. We take, very seriously, our responsibilities with regards to maintaining the public’s confidence with regard to their privacy. The procedures involved when identifying CCTV sites, follow after completion of the Matrix with priority scoring, after a privacy impact assessment and field of view of potential sites, Data Protection Act assessment and, more importantly, the question, ”…is it really necessary?“ ”Can we try something else?“
Our procedures have, from the start, been prepared in close liaison with the Data Protection Supervisor, whilst strict rules of evidence and Court procedures have been the main thrust in ensuring integrity of evidential images. Regular audits will be carried out of records of those who have been viewing the images to ensure compliance with the Code of Practice. These procedures will stand scrutiny and we would welcome the Data Protection Supervisor to visit, review or audit our equipment and systems at any time.
In short, the Council is secure in the knowledge that the, correctly assumed, privacy of the individual is not adversely affected, and the individual can be secure in the knowledge that the CCTV has been installed primarily for their safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve been involved in an incident. Who do I speak to regarding retrieval of footage?
If the Police are dealing with the incident, they may have retrieved the footage but, generally, you should apply for a Subject Access Request form from the Environment and Regeneration Department, Town Hall, Ridgeway Street, Douglas, IM991AD. Your request to view or receive images will then be considered.
How accurate are the cameras?
The camera resolutions and recording frame rates vary depending on the usage of the camera and the reasons as to why the camera is positioned where it is. The cameras are always fit for purpose and therefore they are always accurate.