CCTV – Martingale Close


Thursday, March 13th, 2008. 3:20pm

Mr Beaumont (City Council CCTV Manager),

Could you please let me know why there are two re-deployable Closed Circuit Television (RCCTV) cameras in Martingale Close. I note that a least one local resident did not immediately realise what the objects were which had appeared on the lampposts.

This leads me to question:

  • Did the signs go up at the same time as the cameras?
  • Are the signs big enough?

As you know I am in favour of better signage of the CCTV cameras, and for signing in the area they cover, not just the poles. ie. the usage of the cameras should be in line with the CCTV code of practice which states:

“Publicity will be given to the system by clear signing within the monitored area. This will ensure that both the maximum deterrent value is achieved and that the public are clearly aware when they are in a monitored area. “

Martingale Close - CCTV
This latest deployment in Martingale Close is in a quiet residential area and one camera is right in front of someone’s house just 3 meters or so from their upstairs windows. I think the invasion of privacy is too great with this deployment of the RCCTV.

Can you let me know a bit more about how the restriction of the viewing angle of these cameras has been set as to me it appears that there are very few angles of view for the cameras which would not result in them looking into people’s homes. eg. Are they fixed on the roadway? Has the zoom level been restricted?

While I’m writing to you on the subject of CCTV I would like to take the opportunity to note:

  • The Elizabeth Way bridge cameras are still not signed as belonging to the City Council.
  • I believe you don’t sign individual permanent cameras in the City Centre on the basis that the area covered by CCTV is signed as you enter it, that’s an approach I agree with, but I don’t believe the signage in the City Centre is sufficient.

Many thanks,

Richard Taylor.

I received a rapid reply stating:

The cameras are covering this area at the specific request of some residents and we have had a number of telephone calls from other residents in Martingale Close telling me how pleased they are that the cameras are there. They have been put up for about 4 weeks to deal with issues around Anti-Social Behaviour in the area.

The cameras cannot see into peoples houses. They are fitted with privacy zones which are set to ensure that the cameras cannot see through peoples windows but still see the streets. So we do not invade peoples privacy with these cameras.

Martin later stated that the signs went up with the cameras last Friday.

I was a bit disappointed with this reply, as I had asked for details on the privacy zones, not just reaffirmation of their existence. Details of what type of anti-social behaviour was a problem were not given, without this I can’t really judge if CCTV is an appriopriate response. If they are in response to scooter / mini-moto other bikes then the cameras are only any use if the police are prepared to prosecute people on the basis of video/photographic evidence, which currently in the North Area of Cambridge they are not. I would prefer the RCCTV to be placed outside the homes of those who own and mis-use these bikes (on roads the other side of Histon Road) rather than on Martingale Close.

2 comments/updates on “CCTV – Martingale Close

  1. bernie

    Hi Richard
    If you would like to contact me i can help clairify the situation regarding the signage, as well as the many other legal issues regarding CCTV and the Data Protection Act.
    Datpro advise on all the legal issues that cover CCTV and the Data Protection Act of which there are some 70 points of law.
    Regards
    Bernie
    Datpro 0161 480 4580

  2. Richard Article author

    A Norwich Street resident has contacted me about City Council Redeployable CCTV which has appeared there (he reported the cameras were initially unsigned). Residents have not been informed about the CCTV which has been installed outside their front doors.

    I have pointed the resident in the direction of the council’s CCTV manager, Mr Beaumont, and suggested he ought be able to explain why the cameras have been deployed and provide assurances that privacy zones are in operation.

    I also suggested contacting local city councillors and members of the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny committee which exercises oversight over the council’s use of CCTV.

    I have been campaigning for some time for better signage of the city council’s CCTV, I thought it had improved and generally we were now seeing the RCCTV signed at least on the poles, if not throughout the area covered as required by the council’s code of practice. I’ve also been calling, as in the above article, for residents to be informed about the reasons for cameras being deployed in residential areas. It would clearly be useful to pre-emptively reassure people living in line of sight of the cameras about the existence and operation of privacy zones.

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