Martin Beaumont (Cambridge City CCTV manager),
I would like to ask a few questions/comments about Cambridge City Council’s CCTV system. I want to say that I was very impressed by the quality of response which I got from you when I last made some comments on the city’s CCTV.
1. Are the cameras on Elizabeth Way Bridge, at least one of which covers solely the public road, footpaths and cycleway, owned and run by the council; if so are they treated in the same way as the council’s other CCTV cameras? They are not signed in the same way.
2. The code of practice states: “Publicity will be given to the system by clear signing within the monitored area.”
I am concerned that this is not happening.
I wrote to you (Martin Beaumont) on 13/12/05 about this and he replied: “First of all I can assure you that there were a total of four signs deployed with the RCCTV cameras. Second in accordance with paragraph 12.3 of the Deployment Guidelines for RCCTV they were ‘mounted in the immediate vicinity of the camera mountings’. We are also looking at ways to enable the public to contact CCTV direct. In parallel with this review, we will be looking at the signage.”
Generally with the re-depolyable CCTV there are two signs on the poles which the cameras are attached to. I have never been able to find the two additional signs which Martin Beaumont refers to, though I have on occasion found one.
I don’t think that small signs on the poles the RCCTV is attached to really counts as “clear signing within the monitored area”. An example would is the now apparently permanent RCCTV camera on the Jesus Lock Bridge (an excellent location which I support) – but approaching from Chesterton Road / Carlyle Road or along the riverbank in either direction it is easy to stray into the area covered by the camera without realising it.
I would like to note that there is currently a camera on Christ’s Pieces, without any signage accompanying it, there is nothing on the pole and nothing within the area covered that I could find.
I have asked people standing under the cameras if they know what they are, and they haven’t been able to recognise the RCCCTV cameras as cameras so I think the signs are essential. I didn’t know for sure what the first one I saw was.
I note that there are signs identical to those often used on the poles where RCCTV is mounted on a pole in Regent Street opposite the main post office – perhaps they have been left there when moving the RCCTV? (Or they could be advising me I’m in the zone covered by the CCTV above the Taxi Rank?). I hope you’re not using signs where there are no cameras. The code of practice states: “No hidden cameras will be used, nor will the Scheme utilise any non-functioning or ‘dummy cameras’”. I note it doesn’t specifically preclude dummy signs.
One councillor I have spoken to (Cllr Ward) has said to me he actually supports unsigned CCTV – saying that gives more chance of catching criminals, however I don’t think it is acceptable to have the code of practice saying one thing and the council doing another. If the councillors want unsigned or poorly signed CCTV I think they should be prepared to commit to that in the code of practice and show that it has a democratic mandate.
So overall I’m commenting again that I don’t think you’re effectively providing the “clear signing within the monitored area” which the code of practice requires.
3. The council’s website mentions at 2006-7 Annual Report, but does not have it available to download. Is the 2006-7 Annual Report available? If it is can it be made available on the council’s website? http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/content/reception-and-office-services/cctv-d ocs/cctv-documents.en http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/content/reception-and-office-services/cctv-d ocs/-annual-report-2006-07.en
Richard Taylor Cambridge.