Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is vital in the prevention and detection of crime and antisocial behaviour within town centres. It provides residents and businesses with protection, helping us to make West Suffolk a safer place in which to live, work, socialise and visit. This in turn helps the district to grow and potentially welcome more visitors and residents into the towns.
CCTV was first introduced in Bury St Edmunds in April 1995. We operate a purpose built control room and monitor more than 250 cameras in six different towns across West Suffolk. The control room is in constant communication with local businesses and Suffolk Constabulary in an effort to reduce and prevent crime within the towns. The control room is able to direct police officers to a potential incident whilst broadcasting live images to local police stations and police HQ to provide an effective and supportive service to the police which ultimately serves the public by reducing crime within the area.
Within the control room, there are also links to the town centre retail premises, public houses and local town pastors through a Shopsafe scheme which allows constant radio communication in delivering an effective service to reduce crime and disorder and provide assistance to vulnerable individuals.
Our CCTV operators are vetted at NPPV2 level (Non Police Personnel Vetting) to operate the police airwaves.
All operators additionally must qualify and be in possession at all times of their SIA Licences which allow them to operate a CCTV camera for public space surveillance (PSS). The training standards for these licences are set and governed by the Security Industry Authority who are the issuing authority of all CCTV operator licences.
Purpose of CCTV
All CCTV systems are registered with the Information Commissioner. Their purpose can be broadly described under two main areas:
- to assist in the prevention and detection of crime
- to assist in the promotion of community safety and to reduce antisocial behaviour.
- to assist the client (system owner) in providing any of its prosecuting or contracted services
- to assist in the management of the town - this includes monitoring safety or operationally critical activities on a particular site
- to assist in the protection of assets.
Management of CCTV records
All video data is recorded onto digital hard drives and kept for a maximum of 31 days, which is then automatically overwritten. During this time period, the police or other statutory prosecuting or investigative agencies may apply for access to these images for investigatory purposes.
Still images obtained from the recorded data are only produced to help identify persons or property for specific incidents, or other permitted data uses, and are subject to the same security of data and destruction rules when no longer required by the data requester as recorded video data.
Currently, the control room monitors six towns 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A large percentage of the cameras monitored by our control room are PTZ cameras and can be controlled by the operator through the use of a joystick and keypad. If cameras are not PTZ, they will be static and fixed in a position where there are high levels of crime or positioned for the protection of assets.
The cameras monitored by our control room largely cover the town centre areas, shopping parades, bus stations, car parks, council buildings and general public areas (such as skate park, toilets).
We also own and operate other CCTV systems which are not currently monitored by the control room. In the event of queries for the following sites, please contact them direct:
- CCTV Statistics Issue 3 - 1 September to 31 December 2018
- CCTV Statistics Issue 2 - 1 May to 31 August 2018
- CCTV Statistics Issue 1 - 1 January to 31 April 2018
- CCTV Statistics Issue 1 - 1 January to 31 April 2019
- CCTV Statistics Issue 2 - 1 May to 31 August 2019
Code of practice
In 2013, a new Surveillance Camera Code of Practice was published by the Home Office. This aims to create a more transparent, proportionate and accountable CCTV system.
To assist organisations in achieving the aims set out by the camera code of practice, the Home Office also published Code of Practice - Steps to complying with the 12 principles. If followed correctly, these principles will protect the public as well as uphold civil liberties.
We work to comply with these practices and have conducted a privacy impact assessment to outline precisely what our system entails and what it is being used for. This is to allow transparency, proportionality and accountability as outlined in the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.
Furthermore our self assessment tools also provide transparency and have been published below.
Surveillance Camera Commission Self-Assessment Tool
Subject access request
Under the Data Protection Act (DPA), everyone has the right to view CCTV images if they themselves are the subject. Footage is only stored for a maximum of 31 days due to data protection regulations; after this period it is wiped from storage.
If you have been the victim of a crime or a crime has been committed, you should report it to the police. Arrangements are in place for CCTV to be accessed by the police if it is necessary during a criminal investigation.
Please note that we cannot provide CCTV footage to you in relation to an investigation that is taking place by the police; you should make your request directly to the police.
To make a request, you will need to complete a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR) form and send it to the Data Protection Officer at West Suffolk Council.