Cloudview survey finds CCTV images “too low quality” and “unfit for purpose” of identifying criminals

New research has found that a third of housing associations are worried their CCTV images are too low quality to identify criminals or intruders, even though this is why most of their security-focused managers installed CCTV in the first place. Organisations in this sector are also finding themselves in breach of the Data Protection Act, which states that data recorded with the purpose of identifying individuals performing criminal activities must be of sufficient quality to do so, otherwise its capture is unjustified.

The detailed survey on the use of video in social housing, commissioned by cloud-based surveillance solutions concern Cloudview, set out to examine why companies invest in CCTV and also outline their main concerns surrounding surveillance system performance.

The social housing sector was chosen because housing associations rely heavily on CCTV systems to protect their residents and assets alike. They face the continual challenge of managing multiple locations while generating efficiencies and reducing costs, and could potentially gain considerable improvements from increasing digitisation as well as federating data.

Image quality “a major concern”

Image quality is clearly a major concern, as an even higher percentage of housing associations that don’t have a CCTV system in place had decided against installing it due to poor image quality. In total, 83% of survey respondents rated the quality of rendered CCTV images as being very important.

Data security and compliance with the Data Protection Act are the next most important concerns, showing that data protection legislation is a big issue for housing associations using CCTV. The areas of least concern included the time-stamping of images, firmware updates and adding additional surveillance cameras.

However, there’s no point in having a high-quality image if the time it was recorded is inaccurate, as well as that image being unusable for many purposes such as evidence in criminal investigations. This is another potential breach of the Data Protection Act.

Lack of concern over firmware updates

Similarly, and also a Data Protection Act requirement, any lack of concern for firmware updates shows that end users don’t understand the security risks of not implementing updates and patches, in turn leaving systems open to potential hacking episodes as new security threats are being developed all the time.

Cloudview’s co-founder and CEO James Wickes commented that all of the concerns expressed in the survey surrounding the effectiveness of CCTV – from image quality, secure access and image sharing through to accurate time-stamping – could be addressed by integration with the Internet of Things.

Wickes told Risk UK: “For a CCTV system to serve its purpose, the recordings should be of sufficient quality to identify individuals performing criminal activities and be easily accessible by the police, with the right credentials to be used as evidence, such as accurate time-stamping. It appears that many systems used to protect property, staff or tenants may not be fit for purpose and are breaching data protection legislation, in turn placing companies at risk of fines, bad publicity and even criminal sanctions.”

*Download a copy of A Survey on the Use of Video in UK Social Housing


About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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