Police Response to Remotely Monitored CCTV

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Users of remotely monitored CCTV systems should check they will continue to receive a police response from next year (2009), says Norwich Union Risk Services (NURS).

For more than four years now the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has said that certain CCTV systems monitored by a remote video receiving centre (RVRC) need to meet a British Standard (BS 8418), to qualify for a 'unique reference number' (URN). A URN is needed to ensure a rapid police response to an incident, as having one means that police hold records of the CCTV protected site and RVRCs can talk straight to police control rooms. CCTV systems that meet BS 8418 are recognised by the police as providing them with a zero or near zero false alarm rate, and as such, pressure exists for ACPO to formally restrict police response to such systems alone. The risk firm suggests that systems designed and installed before publication of BS 8418, so-called ‘legacy systems’, make up around 98 per cent of those in operation.

Ask your installer

NURS property security specialist Richard Underwood said anyone using remotely monitored CCTV systems should be aware of this ‘last chance scenario’: "It's possible that many users of these non BS 8418 systems don't realise that the re-assurance of a police response to a witnessed criminal incident on their site is under threat. If you value the possibility of a police response to your CCTV system, you need to ask your installer about the scheme and, if you qualify, make urgent arrangements to get the remote monitoring centre to submit your URN application now." He added that to qualify for a URN, legacy systems will need to maintained by professional CCTV installation companies and be monitored by NSI or SSAIB-approved RVRCs. URN applications will not be accepted by police for systems installed after December 31, 2004, as these should have been installed to the requirements of BS 8418: 2003. Though pre-BS 8418 systems may have an impressive false alarm rate, they may never have been able to formally request a URN. RVRC requests for police assistance from legacy systems have had to be informally passed to the police via normal telephone switchboards, creating delays in call handling and information transfer. When the police move to not accepting calls in respect of non-URN systems, the current informal RVRC access will also cease. As a result large numbers of organisations that have invested heavily in 'legacy systems' are at risk of them being deemed unsuitable for receiving a police response. With this in mind, and after pressure from the security industry, ACPO agreed earlier this year to an amnesty period from May to the end of October, allowing those running legacy systems to also apply for a URN.

This article first appeared in Professional Security Magazine. Contact us if you are interested in finding out more about Professional Security Magazine or subscribing to it.