New code to govern CCTV cameras

Police forces and councils who want to set up CCTV systems will have to be open and clear about what they will be used for and why under Home Office plans.

The plans for a new code of conduct come after West Midlands Police apologised last year over a controversial CCTV scheme which saw more than 200 surveillance cameras installed in two largely Muslim neighbourhoods.



The code may also say how long data, including images from automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, such as those which helped track the killers of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky in Bradford in November 2005, should be retained.



"ANPR differs significantly from CCTV, because ANPR data is more easily searchable," the Home Office said.



"Accordingly, its longer retention can be particularly helpful in police investigations although there should be public transparency in relation to the length of any retention periods."



It added that data used for a particular purpose "should not be kept for longer than is necessary".



Crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said: "CCTV and ANPR systems play a vital role in the prevention and detection of crime.



"However it is important they are used in a way that does not invade law-abiding people's privacy or undermine the public's confidence in them.



"That's why we are establishing this code and that's why we are asking the public what they think should be in it."



A new commissioner will also be appointed to monitor the use of the code, he said.



Launching a 12-week consultation, the Home Office said: "The aim should be to enable any individual wishing to know more about an overt surveillance camera to be able to obtain that information easily and readily, whilst the personal data itself is appropriately safeguarded.



"Anyone considering the use of such technology should first undertake a thorough assessment of the purpose, likely value, and wider impact of such a course of action and determine in the light of that whether or not to proceed.



"Good practice suggests that an important way of commanding public confidence is by ensuring transparency of process in the ownership, purpose and use of surveillance cameras."



Last September, West Midlands Police Chief Constable Chris Sims said he was "deeply sorry" that his force got the balance between counter-terrorism and intrusion into people's lives "so wrong" in what was known as "Project Champion".



The cameras, some of which were hidden, sparked anger from civil liberties campaigners and residents in Sparkbrook and Washwood Heath in Birmingham.



Mr Sims said there were "serious shortcomings" in the force's management of the scheme, which was organised by the Safer Birmingham Partnership, an initiative including West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council and other agencies.



The partnership has acknowledged it should have been more explicit about the role of the city's counter-terrorism unit in setting up the network of 218 cameras.



The number plate recognition and CCTV cameras were financed under a counter-terrorism initiative but were marketed to locals as a general crime prevention measure.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
tech
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'