Why has our industry become a target? We’re ready to uphold security’s reputation

Upholding security's reputation


Recently, it feels like we’ve been bombarded with negative stories about the security industry. Channel 4’s CCTV: Caught on Camera has triggered a lot of thought-provoking questions about privacy and security. But it simultaneously stereotypes security operators as voyeuristic, creepy and invasive all whilst perpetuating the ‘big brother’ image.

SIA trained security professional aOn top of that, a recent court case in Northern Ireland has seen a CCTV operator accused of voyeurism – the trial is ongoing.

We know that the private security industry makes a huge effort to ensure the privacy of individuals is maintained and that communities are only positively affected by the work we do. But these stories continually blanket all CCTV and security operators under the same negative image.

It’s imperative that the distinction between private and public CCTV is made clear. The work we do here at Farsight, as a remote monitoring station, provides businesses, homeowners and facilities managers with unbeatable peace-of-mind knowing that their property is secure when they are not there.

The private security industry works in an entirely different manner to public sector CCTV. And it’s worrying that that distinguishing factor hasn’t been pointed out – especially in CCTV: Caught on Camera. As security professionals you’ll know that private CCTV services are reactive: that means private security operators only look at cameras when an alarm is received, during the hours the owner has requested the site to be monitored. We only view a site when an intruder willingly enters restricted, private area – which is when we perceive the security of the site to have been breached.

Public space CCTV is an entirely different story. The cameras are monitored continuously and the operator’s purpose is to look for trouble. But in the vast majority of cases, we do not doubt that the operators are professional – and by no means do they compare themselves to God, as one operator in CCTV: Caught on Camera did!

The small segment of operators featured in the three part documentary series entirely misrepresents security operators in general. We know that they do not play the role of ‘big brother’ – they’re a group of skilled professionals who respect and maintain the privacy of others.

But back to private CCTV: we conform with a vast number of standards, legislation and trade bodies to ensure the security services we offer are in the best interests of society and upholds every individual’s right to privacy. Here at Farsight we comply with BS8418, BS5979 and ISO: 9001 – all of these set our specific terms, standards and performance levels that security services must comply with.

Plus, our security operators at Farsight undergo a rigorous recruitment process, as well as full security checks before they start monitoring. All security staff must undergo training and criminality checks to achieve a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence and to be permitted to work in the security industry. That includes full police vetting.

We’ve read one review, by The Telegraph, that asks ‘Who watches the watchers?’ – well, we can categorically answer that for private CCTV operators there are many individuals and organisations that regulate the services we provide.Security operator

When we take a look at the trial of Ciaran McCleave in Northern Ireland, we see the same claims of unprofessionalism and voyeurism amongst operators crop up again. The BBC states that McCleave faces one count of misconduct in a public office, one count of voyeurism and six counts of attempted voyeurism. Regardless of McCleave’s guilt or innocence the case highlights the pervasive concern over CCTV intruding the public’s private space. Without a doubt, those concerns are justifiable but again I return to my point of making the difference between public and private CCTV clear.

In the private sector, such an incident could never have occurred.

Here at Farsight, and for many other remote monitoring stations in the UK, we work hard to comply with the standards set out for us – and we often exceed them. We know that the service we provide offers peace of mind to our clients, but part of that peace of mind is achieved by reassuring our clients that we take their privacy and the privacy of others very seriously. Beyond that, CCTV offers our clients benefits that extend beyond simply keeping intruders off their property: it improves their health and safety, reduces their insurance and provides wellbeing via peace of mind for their staff.  It can even improve their business efficiency with the likes of access and systems control.

We’re standing up for the reputation we know the UK’s security industry has worked hard to build. We regularly write about the arrests that are made possible because of our services, here, to show what CCTV actually achieves. And in writing this blog post we hope we’ve set out what makes security services important, and entirely different from the negative images we keep seeing in the media. After all, we know that we make a positive difference.