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Business CCTV must comply for police response to security alerts

10 October 2008

According to the SSAIB (the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board) 98 percent of the monitored CCTV systems are not compliant with the BS8418 standard, but they need to be October 31st if they wish to be 'officially recognised' by the police and enjoy an effective response to incidents.

GSS, an integrated security and remote monitoring solutions providers, is warning that thousands of UK businesses' security could be affected by the enforcement of new regulations. If a business' CCTV system is not fully compliant to British Standard 8418 (BS8418) by October 31st they may be denied a police response to intruder alarms - potentially leaving many commercial premises without an effective security system. Non-compliant companies could also face financial losses through invalid insurance.

All CCTV systems protecting private commercial property installed after January 1st 2005, which require police response, must have been installed to BS8418 regulations. BS8418 sets out tough controls over the installation and monitoring of CCTV systems and requires they are monitored by a BS8418 and BS5979 compliant Remote Video Response Centre (RVRC). Non-compliance to BS8418 would mean a denial of a unique reference number (URN) which is recognised by UK police services.

GSS points out that for some time there has been an anomaly regarding security systems installed prior to January 1st 2005 and that many non-compliant systems have continued to enjoy a police response. But from October 31st such 'Legacy' systems will no longer benefit from this unofficial arrangement. This means that although existing CCTV security systems will remain functional, companies face the prospect of no police response to an alarm if their system does not hold a URN.

Edward Cusack, Managing Director of GSS said: " Businesses with non-complaint legacy systems need to be aware of the potential ramifications. It's possible that thousands of companies that have invested heavily in monitored CCTV protection could find that their system does not have the level of security necessary to elicit a police response come November. They could also face potentially serious financial implications of lapsed insurance cover if their CCTV systems are deemed non-compliant."

About BS8418 compliance
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has, subject to compliance with a number of conditions, provided a time limited opportunity for the owners and operators of these legacy systems to be able to apply for a URN, thus being officially recognised by police services.

For systems pre 2005, a legacy certificate can only be applied for by a BS5979 and BS8418 RVRC, verifying the monitored system meets the basic requirements of the ACPO policy. Any systems which fail to meet these criteria, or whose applications fall outside of the deadline, will not be provided with a URN.

The Problem
From an ACPO perspective a 'false alarm' is an alarm caused by non-criminal intent to which the police have responded. Those members of the BSIA who provide remote CCTV monitoring services through their BS 8418 accredited RVRCs, can claim a zero or near zero false alarm rate. And despite processing many thousands of alarm calls each week, those same RVRCs also claim a 'policed event' rate of 0.05%.

The BS 8418 accredited RVRCs have consistently proved that the filtering techniques they employ ensure that on the fewoccasions that the police are asked to respond, there is a high likelihood of securing an arrest.

However, non-BS 8418 CCTV systems, (those systems designed and installed before the publication of BS 8418 and which make up approximately 98% of current systems) do not qualify for the allocation of a URN. Consequently RVRCs that monitor such systems are unable to use the ex directory or premium rate telephone lines to notify the police control rooms of criminal events as they unfold.

Instead, RVRCs which monitor non-8418 systems are obliged to contact an individual force through its main switchboard and ask to be transferred to the appropriate division. This is usually very time consuming but is further compounded by having to 'spell out' the name and address of the property that is presently being burgled. This reduces the potential effectiveness of the system as the delay in response means that there is more chance of the perpetrators having left the scene after the crime has been committed by the time the Police respond.

The Proposal
As a 'one off' exercise, legacy CCTV systems that comply with the proposed limitations and guidelines listed below, be allocated URN's by the appropriate police forces. A three-month window will be allocated for this purpose. In all cases, the legacy CCTV systems included in this scheme have been commissioned and are maintained by professional CCTV installation companies.

The Benefits of the proposals stated below will:
? Significantly reduced communication times
? Streamline the exchange of data
? Lessen the chance of error
? Provides a mechanism for data analysis and control
? Greatly improves probability of arrest
? Improves credibility of forces refusing to issue URN's to non-compliant RVRCs.

Summary
The aim of the scheme is to bring as many of the legacy CCTV systems into a controlled environment. This will cut the number of false calls being sent to the police and therefore ensure that the police only respond to actual incidents.
For more details see www.ssaib.co.uk/Notices.asp and download Notice No. 1009 - "Legacy CCTV Systems"



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