Public CCTV Systems in Scotland under crisis, claims internal police report

CCTV systems for public safety across Scotland are fragmented, lack strategic direction, are in parts obsolete and may be breaching data protection laws, according to an internal police report. With governments everywhere focusing on tightening security checks for public spaces, it is highly essential to have a robust security surveillance system in place. Government bodies must ensure that citizens are not put at risk due to obsolete video surveillance systems.

The review by Police Scotland was recently released under freedom of information law and was published by the investigative website The Ferret. The report was produced in the wake of the establishment in April 2013 of Police Scotland, which replaced the eight previous regional police services and provides a single police force for Scotland.

The review paints a picture of near-crisis for Scotland’s public space CCTV with “negligible strategic leadership … in respect of governance, capital and revenue purchasing power.” It says that there have been significant instances when CCTV managers have found themselves “in crisis” with few funds to pay for staff, equipment and maintenance. In response, some CCTV control rooms have diversified and expanded funding by providing out-of-hours response services for local authorities, monitoring of community and intruder alarms, and CCTV monitoring of property. However, there are concerns that such moves might have a detrimental effect on the core function of monitoring public spaces.

System ownership and management is fragmented among 32 local authorities, Police Scotland, local authority and police partnerships, and trusts. The report recommends that statutory responsibility for the operation and maintenance of CCTV be allocated to a public body.