CCTV alone can not reduce or detect crime, but used in conjunction with other methods it can greatly assist in the detection of offenders.

A common misconception is that the police own CCTV cameras. In fact, cameras are predominantly owned by local authorities and private businesses.

How the police use CCTV ?

  • To track the movements of criminals
  • To locate victims of crime
  • To identify potential witnesses
  • To identify any suspects
  • To provide corroboration for evidence
  • To prove or disapprove alibis
  • To help to determine the seriousness and context of any offence, particularly in court cases
  • To monitor public order disturbances
  • To provide surveillance of critical locations.

What businesses should know

The Home Office has published UK Police requirements for digital CCTV systems which gives guidance to potential users of the system. There are four areas that must be considered in order for police to use footage or images in criminal investigations.

  • Quality – Are the pictures good enough?
  • Storage – Are the pictures stored appropriately?
  • Export – Can the pictures be easily exported from the system?
  • Playback – Can the pictures be easily viewed by authorised third parties?

Other issues that will help with criminal investigations are:

  • The ease of burning a copy of the CCTV footage onto a CD or DVD. Cheshire Constabulary would always prefer to view the footage on site and take away a copy. A short statement will be taken from the person who copies the disk for evidential purposes.
  • The correct time and date on the footage, taking into account daylight saving.

How can businesses use CCTV effectively?

To ensure CCTV systems are operating effectively to deter and detect crime, we advise that:

  • CCTV cameras should be located at all pedestrian entrance and exit points and set up to capture full facial images
  • Cameras should be sited as low as possible so that full face shots are recorded
  • When you place a camera ensure that it doesn't suffer from glare of backlight
  • A photographic stills camera should also be used on the main entrance. This would provide superior facial images for identification purposes
  • You place other cameras in important areas around your business site. This ensures that all areas of your business are covered
  • Dedicated staff should be undergo regular training in the operation of the system
  • The system should have sufficient storage capacity for good quality high resolution pictures and be retained for a minimum of 31 days.
  • Check the specification of the cameras and the digital video recording systems.  We recommend that medium to high resolution is used as per the PC industry standards e.g. 740 x 576. Higher number of pixels means greater clarity of picture.

High risk premises

For high-risk premises and shops located within a town or city centre, consideration should also be given to:

  • Discussions with the local crime and disorder partnership, town centre manager and town centre public
  • The CCTV surveillance manager should consider linking an internal fully functional CCTV camera, panic alarm and audio system to their control room. This link would enable the trained CCTV town centre operators to track the offender’s route and enable the ANPR cameras (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) to record vehicle details.

Review your existing system

Could you positively identify an individual from the recorded images on your CCTV system?

  • To assess the system performance, periodically view the recorded pictures or print out a still
  • Do not assess the system using the live screen
  • Ensure that your current system is recording 12 images/frames per second (ips).