CCTV Security – the hidden world of the monitoring centre

Video wall

Over sev­er­al decades now, a key com­po­nent for pro­tect­ing a loca­tion from a breach of secu­ri­ty or safe­ty has been a net­work of closed-cir­cuit TV cam­eras, or CCTV.

And whilst the cam­eras are most­ly clear­ly vis­i­ble, what goes on behind the scenes, in the remote video mon­i­tor­ing cen­tres, has large­ly been an untold area of the secu­ri­ty sec­tor. How­ev­er, spe­cial­ist secu­ri­ty provider, VPS UK, has just pub­lished an inter­view with Bart Ros­tkows­ki, Group Mon­i­tor­ing Man­ag­er, that takes the lid off its in-house Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­tre to uncov­er some of this hith­er­to secret world. 

All of VPS’s detec­tor-based mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems, from their Smart Alarms through to their CCTV Tow­ers, ben­e­fit from the sup­port of the Mon­i­tor­ing Station. 

We mon­i­tor the widest range of sites, includ­ing high val­ue pri­vate res­i­den­cies, com­mer­cial build­ings, con­struc­tion sites, through to infra­struc­ture or any site of crit­i­cal nation­al impor­tance.” Bart explains. CCTV is a proven deter­rent to intrud­ers seek­ing to breach a premise’s secu­ri­ty, and in most cas­es will put peo­ple off an attempt. If they are still deter­mined to try, their actions will not only acti­vate an alert, and put into motion a response plan, but they will also be record­ed to pro­vide evi­dence for any police follow-up.”

Many peo­ple will not realise the lev­el of accred­i­ta­tion and licens­ing required to set up a mon­i­tor­ing centre. 

Bart empha­sis­es that there are British Stan­dards that gov­ern the mon­i­tor­ing of received sig­nals from fire, secu­ri­ty and detec­tor-acti­vat­ed CCTV sys­tems. And it is actu­al­ly ille­gal for a CCTV oper­a­tor to con­duct their work with­out a Pub­lic Space Sur­veil­lance licence, issued by the Secu­ri­ty Indus­try Author­i­ty, the SIA, a gov­ern­ment body.” 

Despite that legal require­ment, the SIA pros­e­cutes approx­i­mate­ly one secu­ri­ty firm or oper­a­tive a week for not hold­ing the appro­pri­ate license. 

The British Stan­dards are thor­ough, requir­ing secu­ri­ty com­pa­nies not only to observe all aspects of health and safe­ty when design­ing the sys­tem lay­out, but also to take into account the secu­ri­ty screen­ing of their employ­ees. They must con­sid­er the effects of light or noise pol­lu­tion on the local envi­ron­ment and the require­ments of the Pri­vate Secu­ri­ty Indus­try Act 2001, with regards to mon­i­tor­ing, record­ing and use of CCTV in pri­vate & pub­lic places under con­tract. They must pay atten­tion to the require­ments of the Data Pro­tec­tion Act, the Infor­ma­tion Commissioner’s Office (ICO) CCTV code of prac­tice for sur­veil­lance cam­eras and per­son­al infor­ma­tion[1], and the Sur­veil­lance Cam­era Commissioner’s (SCC) Sur­veil­lance cam­era code of prac­tice[2].

Pro­tect­ing assets requires a sig­nif­i­cant train­ing of staff to recog­nise and dis­tin­guish between like­ly secu­ri­ty inci­dents and oth­er­wise inno­cent activ­i­ties, and also to pay detail to the details of the oper­a­tion inside the mon­i­tor­ing cen­tre. There’s no point in offer­ing a 24-hour 365-day ser­vice if a there is no back-up for an inter­rupt­ed ser­vice from the pow­er sup­pli­er or for a mali­cious attempt to cut the pow­er or com­mu­ni­ca­tions.” Bart concludes.

In the orig­i­nal film The Ital­ian Job’, a team of expe­ri­enced thieves mas­ter­mind­ed a major gold heist by hi-jack­ing the city of Turin’s traf­fic light net­work, bring­ing the city to grid­lock. To pre­vent real­i­ty imi­tat­ing art, the accred­it­ed VPS Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­tre is not only encased in steel enforced con­crete, with walls, ceil­ings and floors all armed with vibra­tion sen­sors, but also has a busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity and dis­as­ter recov­ery plan in place, sup­port­ed by a sec­ond Mon­i­tor­ing Sta­tion to guar­an­tee unin­ter­rupt­ed coverage.

The full inter­view can be watched on YouTube here: https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​f​j​a​P​Y​_​kuF2Y


[1] https://ico.org.uk/media/for‑o…

[2] https://​www​.gov​.uk/​g​o​v​e​r​n​ment/…