To seek approval to update the CCTV Policy to include the use of Body Worn Video.
Cabinet considered a report seeking approval to update the North Tyneside Council CCTV Policy to include the use of Body Worn Video.
The Authority operated a number of closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems which were used in areas such as council buildings, public spaces, and on its refuse collection vehicles. It also monitored systems deployed by other parties such as schools, Northumbria Police and Nexus under service level agreements or contract arrangements.
These CCTV system installations were operated in line with extensive statutory requirements and associated guidance to ensure that the need for public protection was balanced against the need to respect the right of privacy for individuals. Although not a statutory requirement, the Authority had developed a CCTV policy which was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.
The proposal to introduce this policy, which would govern the use of the Authority’s CCTV systems, was aimed at adding further rigour to the manner in which they were managed and to provide assurance of compliance with relevant legislation and the accompanying statutory codes of practice. The policy only covered the use of CCTV systems that were deployed overtly. The Authority did not routinely use CCTV systems covertly. Such use was strictly controlled by surveillance legislation ‘the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000’, and was subject to a specific policy which had been approved by Cabinet and was regularly reviewed. As well as preventing and detecting crime, having visible CCTV systems in public spaces also enhanced feelings of safety for residents and communities. Ensuring places were safe was a priority of the Elected Mayor. This was also a priority of the Safer North Tyneside Community Safety Partnership where promoting feelings of safety amongst communities was one of the key aims of its Community Safety Strategy 2019-2024.
The Authority had since upgraded its static public space CCTV and had opened a new control room. Also, a new mobile CCTV vehicle had been introduced along with more CCTV cameras which were capable of being redeployed to tackle identified hotspots for antisocial behaviour and environmental crime. Officers had scope to use Body Worn Video (BWV) which was a portable system that provided an audio and visual record of enforcement activities undertaken by the wearer. The use of BWV could provide a number of benefits which included a deterrent to acts of aggression or verbal and physical abuse toward employees and providing evidence to support Police and Authority investigations.
This improved CCTV capability was playing a vital role in assisting the additional officer capacity which included new community protection wardens and an environmental rapid response team.
CCTV systems were surveillance systems and their use was subject to a range of legislative controls which enabled organisations to use them lawfully. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 introduced the provision to appoint a Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) with the power to develop and introduce a Code of Practice focussing on the use of surveillance camera systems. The role of the SCC was to encourage compliance with the Code of Practice, review how the Code was working on the ground and provide advice to Ministers on whether or not future amendments to the Code were required. At present the SCC had no enforcement or inspection powers and worked with ‘relevant authorities’ to make them aware of their duty to have regard to the Code. North Tyneside Council was classed as a relevant authority.
The SCC had published the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice in June 2013 which set out new guidelines for CCTV systems and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) in the form of ‘12 Guiding Principles’.
The introduction of a CCTV policy provided a framework to centrally co-ordinate the use of the Authority’s CCTV systems therefore giving additional assurance that the relevant compliance standards were being met. The SCC had requested that each relevant authority nominated a Senior Responsible Officer (SRO). The role of SRO was undertaken by the Authority’s Data Protection Officer. The SRO was responsible for maintaining an Asset Register of CCTV equipment and where these assets were deployed. Each Director of Service was responsible for ensuring effective and legally compliant systems and procedures were in place within their service areas. Each service area would have a nominated Responsible Officer for each CCTV system. An ‘Employee: ‘Code Assessment Pack’, had been prepared which provided key information for Officers and directed them towards key sources of detailed guidance. It would be kept under review and revised as necessary to ensure it reflected current procedures and best practice.
The CCTV policy would be reviewed annually and brought back to Cabinet for approval. The Authority would also consider internal reports on the use of CCTV to ensure that it wasbeing used consistently in compliance with the policy and that it remained fit for purpose.
On approval by Cabinet the CCTV policy would be promoted across the Authority under the direction of the SRO. Responsible Officers who had been designated as having responsibility for CCTV systems they operated would have a key role to play in making the necessary adjustments to ensure compliance with it. The policy would be published on the Authority’s website and internally on the intranet. A new programme of training for relevant managers and officers who used CCTV systems would also be undertaken.
The opportunity to apply to the SCC’s third-party certification process would also be explored. This was a scheme that enabled relevant authorities to certify their CCTV systems against the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. This would enable the Authority to use the SCC’s certification mark and provide further assurance of the Authority’s compliance standards.
Cabinet considered the following decision options: to accept the recommendations set out in paragraph 1.2 of the report, or alternatively, to not approve the recommendations and request officers to revise the draft policy and/or provide additional information regarding any matters contained in the report.
Resolved that (1) the Authority’s revised draft policy on CCTV attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved;
(2) the Director of Law and Governance, in consultation with the Elected Mayor as appropriate, be authorised to implement the policy and all ancillary matters relating to it; and
(3) Cabinet receives an update report every 12 months to ensure proper oversight of the policy be agreed.
(Reason for decision:Although not a statutory requirement, this policy provides a framework to centrally co-ordinate the use of the Authority’s CCTV systems therefore giving additional assurance that the relevant compliance standards are being met.)