Questions and Answers
The following answers have been provided by the City Watch Operations Manager in response to questions posed by Jill Magid in their email correspondences. They appear in the order in which they were asked.
Answers provided by other sources are in italics.
How many cameras in the city are on tall poles?
Approximately 200 poles with approximately 20 wall mounted cameras.
There are currently 242 CCTV cameras in the City Watch System.
Can I have a map of the system of fibre optic cables that lead from the CCTV monitoring station to each of the CCTV cameras?
Unfortunately because of security issues I am unable to provide you with detailed information on the CCTV fibre optic network and individual camera connections.
-Projects Manager, Police Headquarters
What do you call the machine/system that stores all the CCTV footage for 31 days?
The machine is a very large digital hard drive with a storage capability of 72 terabits; the make is IBM similar storage units are used in banks etc.
How can a subject request data held about him/her by the City Watch System?
To view or receive copy of footage, you must fill out a Subject Access Request Form:
“Subject to certain exemptions, you have a right to be told whether any personal data is held about you on the closed circuit video camera city scheme. You also have a right to a copy of that information in a permanent form except where the supply of such a copy is not possible or would involve disproportionate effort, or if you agree otherwise. City Watch will only give that information if it is satisfied as to your identity. A fee of £10 is payable for each request.” Subject Access Request Forms must be received within 31 days of the specified incident.
-Paraphrased from Section 5, Subject Access Request Form.
What criteria does the Subject Access Request Form need to meet to be investigated and the video footage scrutinized? Does there have to be specific crime alleged for someone to request to see footage? Or can it be personal?
I have attached a third party request form, and no there does not have to be a crime reported in the UK. We have an act of parliament called the Data Protection Act. Video images are considered Data and therefore the public have a right to view Data held about them.
If the 10-pound fee is paid for the Subject Access Request Form, can the person paying automatically see the footage? Where does the money go?
First part: the public does not have an automatic right. The data controller has the final say i.e. me after considering why they want it and who else may be identified in the image. After considering those other persons rights, also if it is part of an ongoing investigation and other considerations, second the ten pound fee is set by the Data Protection Office it is supposed to cover administration fees however it does not, it is paid to the scheme for searching for the image only but if the image is supplied or viewed no other charge is levied.
Where is this evidence footage viewed and under what conditions?
The evidence is viewed in our viewing suite (the small office I sit in) by the person requesting along with a trained operative.
What does an Evidence Locker look like and where is it located? Who has access?
The evidence locker is within the IBM storage area and held on digital storage tapes, from time to time some of these tapes containing the evidence will be removed and placed into a safe storage area at our unit and the tapes replaced with new ones, only a qualified engineer or myself can access the tapes.
Evidence is held in the evidence locker for a minimum of seven years.
Read the Q&A on Evidence Lockers
The 'safe storage space' for the tapes-- is that like another hard drive as digital storage or do you have a physical object like a safe they go into, in that same room where the IBM machine is?
A secure / safe type cabinet stored in the equipment room close to the IBM machine
What is ANPR?
ANPR is Automatic Number Plate Recognition. We have the ability to track car registration numbers and associate them with the Department of Transport Technology to identify traffic offenders, etc.
Do the cameras have Facial Recognition capability?
All of them are capable of facial recognition its just that we have not expanded into that software market yet. In the future we will go for facial recognition.
If you are to release an image (as stills or video sequence) and other people are in the frame besides the person requesting footage, do the technical operators erase them, or blacken them out?
Erasure of other persons if necessary would be done by an outside agency at our expense.
The programme we use is supplied by Synectics and is called Synergy.
There is a file cabinet in your office next to the door, to the left, is this where you keep the Subject Access Request Forms that have been filled out?
I am assuming you keep the tapes (and stills?) separate from the written request forms. Is this a correct assumption?
Once again correct
I was reading the Data Protection Act, in the section of exemptions. In section 4, article 34, it states: Information available to the public by or under enactment.
34. Personal data are exempt from-
(a) the subject information provisions,I am not sure what it means by Exempt. Does this mean information CAN or
(b) the fourth data protection principle and section 14(1) to (3), and
(c) the non-disclosure provisions,
if the data consist of information which the data controller is obliged by or under any enactment to make available to the public, whether by publishing it, by making it available for inspection, or otherwise and whether gratuitously or on payment of a fee.
CANNOT be processes and given to the data subject if she requests the information for personal reasons? This assumes all other individuals in the tape are blurred out for protection. Do you have the power to make that decision?
I think the best answer for you on this one is this, The Data protection Act is very complicated and written for those in the Legal field, however there is a document produced by the Data Protection Inspectorate that explains in more simple terms what is required by Law and what is good practice I would suggest for part of your study you request a Copy, I do not have an electronic version otherwise as you know I would oblige. The Document is entitled ' does your closed circuit television system meet the requirements of the CCTV Codes of Practice within The Data Protection Act 1998.
In Section 3 of the Subject Access Request Form, it asks the following: To confirm whether you will accept just viewing the information, or if you want a copy of the information. You explained that if someone wants to see the footage she has requested, she can do so in your office, and you import a monitor. But if she wants to keep the footage for herself, is she allowed?
Yes after careful consideration of why / What for and having regard to other persons rights who may be caught on the same image who may have to be blurred out at our expense.
If there is not a crime visible, and everyone else is edited out who does not agree to the release of his/her image, can she keep the footage from the system?
What is she allowed or not allowed to do with it?
It is data held about her and under The Data Protection Act she can have a copy depending on the use of that copy I suppose offences could be committed.
Do you only hold this footage in the locker if there is a crime, or is all pulled footage held there?
Any evidence we save is saved into the evidence locker- that would usually be a crime but other occurrences saved also get saved in the evidence locker
I know the Chair of the panel agrees requests for CCTV footage to be used for crime prevention use by the legal system, press and television, and that the Chair does not allow footage to be used for any other purpose. BUT if a woman fills out a Subject Access Request Form asking for footage to be searched out that involves her in public space (for whatever reasons, crime or not), will her request be permitted?
Yes if the requests on the form are met and after considering the motive
I thought you had said that all paid requests were acted upon, and once that was the case, the pulled images would be kept in the evidence locker.
Yes if the requests on the third party application form are met and the evidence is available
My questions are really about footage as kept and footage as released. I am assuming all Subject Access Request Forms are held in your file.
Yes our administration keeps the original
I am also assuming each request that is paid for IS dealt with and that the requested footage is fetched and removed as evidence. (This is not dependent upon a crime).
When the footage goes to time lapse, how many frames is it per second?
Footage is automatically converted into time-lapse after 24 hours. Footage released to me in time-lapse had more data than I requested: four different camera views were included. My video, Incident Retrieved, utilizes this extra data. (Jill Magid)
As the Operations Manager of the CCTV monitoring station, are you also the Data Controller? Meaning, are you the man in control of what data gets processed (pulled out and put in the evidence locker)? Can it be your decision which information is searched for based on someone's Subject Access Request Form?
Simple answer is yes but I have to justify that decision
What company do you use as your Image Consultant--meaning, the company you send video to for the blurring out or deletion of people? I wonder if the people just have blurred faces or are erased completely or have a black dot over them... Can you also describe what it looks like to you?
We have not had to use a company for this yet but will investigate. The Merseyside Police have the facility for this but we intend to purchase our own software to enable us to do this thus limiting cost.
What is the Jukebox?
It is a digital storage unit contained within a completely controlled environment for optimum quality. It is located in the Forensic Imaging Unit of Police Headquarters. Images that undergo any form of forensic study or manipulation are here. Files in the Jukebox are updated every year and burned to disk for safekeeping. They are stored forever.
-Paraphrased description supplied by FIU Image Manipulator.
When you program privacy zones on the camera, how do they appear? Black or blurry?
We have a number of overlay pictures. One is a black square/rectangle. Others appear as a fuzzy screen, depends on what we decide to overlay.
More about Privacy Zones
If I, for example, were to fill out a Subject Access Request Form, with all the appropriate information and 10 pound fee, would that information be searched for and pulled so that I could see it? I would of course agree that everyone else be blocked out or erased.
Yes depending on your reason if a valid reason was given then the information on you would be available for you to see
As a side note to you, I saw this exhibition yesterday about using technology and/or art as a way to imagine a better future. Imagine if the CCTV cameras could be used to record beautiful moments and interactions in the city instead of watching for problems? Just a nice thought!
We often see and record such events but sadly in the cold world of crime and disorder this is not evidence. But as you say we can use our imagination and have nice thoughts I believe some people though use their imagination and have naughty thoughts
Just a thought