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The ‘eyes and ears’ of Sandwell receive the hallmark of excellence | Sandwell Council

The ‘eyes and ears’ of Sandwell receive the hallmark of excellence

Published 7th June 2021

Sandwell Council’s CCTV Control Room has been awarded a certificate of compliance from the National Security Inspectorate which is the hallmark of excellence for providers of security.

In March 2021 the CCTV Control Room was audited by the Inspectorate and was accredited with the certificate of compliance by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Mr Fraser Sampson, acknowledging its standards of compliance in accordance with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and the Surveillance Commissioner’s Code of Practice.

Operators in the CCTV Control Room work around the clock to act as the ‘eyes and ears of the community’, monitoring over 520 cameras across the borough. They deliver CCTV and concierge services to residents; work collaboratively with partner agencies to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB); and provide reassurance, monitoring, responses and evidence.

The team reports issues to colleagues and departments for action, or shares information that can be passed on for intelligence gathering purposes, so issues can be identified and dealt with. They are part of several multi-agency groups, working with the police, wardens, ASB officers, housing officers, taxi licencing, environmental health and other council teams, such as counter fraud teams and the Environmental Protection Team.

The team monitors several council high-rise blocks of flats and also monitors West Bromwich and Wednesbury town centres and Friar Park, Yew Tree and Princes End High Street. In addition, the team manages the authority’s deployable camera stocks throughout the borough. These activities help to reduce ASB, crime and environmental offences.

The team provides intercom and concierge services to over 2,000 of the council’s high-rise tenants. Intercoms located on the front door panel of blocks allow operators to control access while handsets in each of the flats allow tenants to have 24-hour contact with the CCTV Control Room to report a range of issues. The team can also contact tenants to reassure them when an issue has been dealt with for them, or to issue warnings about their behaviour.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, the CCTV Control Room monitored and responded to nearly 6,000 incidents of crime, ASB and tenancy breaches, despite the pressures and demands created by the Coronavirus pandemic.

During the year, the CCTV Control Room has:
● received or made 101,647 intercom calls, including nearly 23,000 calls involving tenants in their own flats
● recorded 5,824 incidents
● passed footage of 83 incidents to West Midlands Police.

In a letter received from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, Mr Sampson wrote that he: “acknowledged the excellent and most commendable commitment of Sandwell Council’s CCTV Control Room and its operators.” The letter went on to state: “I am of course delighted to accept the recommendation of the National Security Inspectorate and I have issued a certificate accordingly.”

Councillor Maria Crompton, Cabinet Member for Strong and Resilient Communities, said: “The CCTV Control Room delivers a proactive service all year round, alongside our colleagues and partners. Our operators monitor cameras and respond to intercom calls from across Sandwell. They are always available to our customers.

“The awarding of the certificate of compliance by the National Security Inspectorate and the Surveillance Camera Commissioner highlights the important work of our CCTV and concierge staff in keeping our residents safe. Working with a range of partners, they deliver excellent services to some of our most vulnerable customers, and provide reassurance in a time of great need.”

Councillor Rajbir Singh, Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “I am committed to making Sandwell cleaner, greener and safer and am proud that the ongoing efforts and commitment of our officers in the CCTV Control Room are having real and positive results in supporting these aims, and their achievements have rightly received this national recognition.”

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner is appointed by the Home Secretary under the terms Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and is independent of government.

The role of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner is to encourage compliance with the surveillance camera Code of Practice.

The surveillance camera Code of Practice sets out guidelines for CCTV and automatic number plate recognition.

Amongst his statutory functions he works closely with independent accreditation bodies within the security industry to deliver a certification scheme in respect of the surveillance camera systems in public places and which fall within his regulatory remit. This includes the National Security Inspectorate.

This scheme enables organisations to demonstrate that the systems they operate comply with the provisions of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and the Surveillance Commissioner’s Code of Practice. By successfully engaging with the accreditation bodies and the certification scheme, an organisation and the public may be reassured that surveillance camera systems which intrude upon their privacy are being demonstrably operated ethically and legitimately to an appropriate standard.

For more information about the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/surveillance-camera-commissioner/about