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, and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s (SCC) Surveillance camera code of practice.
“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/watch?v=fjaPY_kuF2Y