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Fit for purpose

Richard Jenkins, CEO of the National Security Inspectorate, explains why FMs need to follow best practice when installing today’s sophisticated security systems

The rate of adoption of technology in the security sector has been rapid, delivering cost savings, improved reliability and enhanced safety. Examples of CCTV technologies include ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) and video analytics – video pattern-based algorithms that recognise the movements and characteristics of people and vehicles, delivering far more value in surveillance terms than was imagined even a decade ago. The internet of things (IoT) – the interconnection of computing power embedded in a growing number of everyday objects and devices – enables the capture and transmission of data via networks and the internet.

Such technologies are making a marked difference to the level of surveillance and security in every sector. But it’s important that systems are installed in line with best practice to ensure they are fit for purpose, reliable, protected from vandalism and hacking, and compliant with laws such as the Protection of Freedoms Act, Data Protection Act and Private Security Industry Act.

Guidance for installing CCTV in public spaces can be found in the surveillance camera code of practice (www.gov.uk/government/publications/surveillance-camera-code-of-practice-third-party-certification-scheme). The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is an independent specialist security industry certification body appointed to audit against this code of practice as part of the surveillance camera commissioner’s certification scheme.

NSI’s recently updated code of practice NCP 104 (Issue 3) for the design, installation and maintenance of CCTV surveillance systems, against which NSI-approved companies are audited, has been laid out to enable installers to follow a logical process through the development and delivery of a system to meet the user’s requirements and ensure effective cyber security and system operability.

It’s essential to ensure that user requirements are clearly defined and agreed at the outset. Typically this will involve a site survey, activities to be recorded and expected lighting levels, as well as consideration of environmental conditions, utilisation of existing networks and cyber security. Reviewing and revising the requirements and the proposed solution throughout the design and installation process will help ensure the system is proportionate, effective and secure.

Once installed, an appropriate inspection and maintenance programme should be put in place to ensure service continuity. Standby and backup power supply will be key to the system’s integrity. System designers should also consider ongoing protection against hacking and malware.

Alarm systems are another aspect of security where technologies are enhancing capability and efficiency. The ability to operate the alarm system via an app on a mobile phone has become a reality. Security systems increasingly include additional features or interface with home management systems in order to meet the stringent demands of industry standards recognised by the police and insurers. Qualified alarm system installers should be well versed in add-on features that complement the core security functionality – something not always evident with ‘DIY’ plug-and-play solutions.

In order to obtain a police response in the UK, the alarm system must carry a certificate of compliance showing that it has been designed and installed, with maintenance arranged, by an approved company certificated by a body such as NSI. Ongoing alarm system monitoring is also undertaken by approved ARCs (alarm receiving centres), operating to stringent British standards. These provide 24/7 monitoring and should be ready to alert the relevant police force and keyholders when a confirmed alarm signal is recognised for a given premises.

Further information about police response to alarms can be found at www.nsi.org.uk/information-centre/information-for-businesses/police-policy.

About Sarah OBeirne


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