Parking enforcement specialist Park Watch has just become the first organisation to be awarded the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s certification specifically for its use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. Park Watch was audited and successfully achieved full certification against its use of CCTV and body-worn video as well as ANPR.
Certification enables organisations who are operating surveillance camera systems overtly in public places to clearly demonstrate that they comply with the Commissioner’s Surveillance Camera Code of Practice and, importantly, its 12 guiding principles. If the principles are followed this will ensure that surveillance systems are always operated proportionately, transparently and effectively.
For relevant authorities (ie local authorities and police forces) this is particularly important, as they must show due regard to the Code of Practice. For other organisations, such as the British Parking Association and its approved operators, following the Code is voluntary.
Surveillance Camera Code of Practice
Adrian Powell, director of Park Watch, stated: “Once the British Parking Association requested its approved operators to sign up to the guidelines of the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice, it was decided by the Board of Directors at Park Watch that we would prefer to follow the extensive audit process through to full certification. At a time when the parking industry is coming under extensive scrutiny of its standards, achieving this accreditation provides confidence for our customers and staff who benefit from the extensive investment we’ve made in camera technology right across our business.”
The full certification process involves completing the self-assessment tool and then submitting this to one of the certification bodies and having other relevant documents available for assessment. The certification body will then contact the host business to arrange a date for a full audit of its surveillance system. An auditor will visit the end user organisation’s Control Room to audit the system, cameras and procedures, working with a check list against the 12 guiding principles listed in the Code. As long as there are no serious non-compliance issues, the auditor will produce a report for the Commissioner recommending full certification.
“The certification meant several weeks of pre-audit preparation,” said Powell, “followed by a two-day office and site inspection involving members of head office staff as well as site-based operatives.”
Powell went on to state: “All our members of staff that took part felt the process had been ‘excellent’. Our site-based and mobile patrol staff are issued with body-worn cameras, supplying them with a visual deterrent for the sometimes difficult situations that they face. They now appreciate the requirement for a full understanding of the operating procedures and the daily checks required when using this important equipment.”
Full certification lasts for a period of five years subject to an annual review of the system. Any organisation that’s recommended for – and then successfully achieves – certification is then awarded a certificate of compliance from the Commissioner and can make use of the Commissioner’s certification mark on its website and other communications to indicate compliance with the Code.
Powell concluded: “We’re pleased to have achieved the Surveillance Camera Commissioner certification mark. This gives our existing and new customers and staff confidence that they’re dealing with a professional organisation that takes pride in the quality of service it provides on a daily basis.”