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CCTV MONTH: Answering the rise in security threats with better communication and surveillance

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Police recorded crime in England and Wales in the year ending December 2022 exceeded pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. The number of professional security guards in the UK is on the decline, and it is widely known that the sector is having a challenging time recruiting for a shortage of staff. Additionally, people employed within the professional security sector are faced with numerous barriers to entry into the profession – and in some cases have to carry out their own training and apply for their own licenses to work in this space.

Added to this is the fact that many receive physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis. While one might be inclined to think that this is to be expected and acceptable for this kind of job, it raises questions of employers around what they can do to make these kinds of jobs safer and more appealing to current and potential employees. While offering training goes a long way to providing people with the skills they need to carry out their jobs – it doesn’t’ stop there.

Firms must consider their approach to communication and surveillance. While this might seem like a given, and obvious to many, a key question is whether the technology that teams are using is really fit for today’s purpose? Have firms provided teams with the right tools to do their jobs and feel safe as they carry out their duties? Chris Potts, ANT Telecom explains…

The state of play across the industry

In August 2012 there were 88,915 active security guard licences on the market, says research from and the Security Industry Authority. Since then, in recent years, it steadily declined to between approximately 62,000 – 71,000. As expected, over the pandemic, 2020 and 2021, this figure was at its lowest – 61,630 and 62,901, respectively, with 2022 sitting at 64,226 licences. While this figure points out the decline in licenses, which staff generally have to attain themselves, it illustrates the decline in the number of people actively working in the industry. Despite this decrease, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) says the UK’s private security industry must recruit, train and licence over 62,000 officers over the next 12 months – to keep up with the growing demand for its services, and to keep the public safe.

The retail sector is feeling the pressure too. Figures from the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) crime survey reveal that incidents rose from a pre-Covid high of over 450 per day in 2019/20 to over 850 per day in 2021/22. These include physical assault, threats with weapons, racial and sexual abuse. Further, the total cost of retail crime stood at £1.76 billion during 2021/22, with £953 lost to customer theft; and over 8 million incidents occurred during that year. Alongside this, the BRC points out that retailers spent approximately £715 million on crime prevention in 2021/22. Naturally, for retailers and supermarkets this is a major issue. Crime erodes profit and it distresses staff who are on the wrong end of customer abuse and crime.

Anti-social behaviour and violence at football stadiums is rising too. Figures from explain that in the 2021 and 2022 football season, there were 2,198 football-related arrests. However, arrests in the 2022/23 season were approximately 59% higher than those during the 2018/19 football season (pre-Covid); and comparable with levels seen in 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2014/15 seasons. Common offences included public and violent disorder. Typically, any violence and criminal behaviour witnessed and experienced at events, especially football matches, puts a majority of people off attending – especially parents who want to bring children to a match. These types issues need to be contained, and those responsible banned, as no one wants to see a return of the hooliganism witnessed in the 70s.

A joined up approach to solving the problem

Security teams can use many approaches to prevent and manage incidents. Deterrence, catching people in the act, and evidence collection are key. But without the right collaborative approach and communication technologies, teams will not be as effective as they could be.

In retail, this might translate to increasing the security guard presence in stores to help put off criminal behaviour. It could involve enabling cashiers and floor staff to communicate with security guards when they spot disruptive or criminal behavior – or, equipping some staff with body-worn cameras, as this allows for evidence collection to take place if/when CCTV footage doesn’t reach a particular area of a store or fails. Similarly, at sporting events, CCTV, body worn cameras and communication technologies can enable security teams to collaborate effectively to spot wrong doing in crowds and co-ordinate an appropriate response.

Communication technology’s role

At the heart of all of these joined-up approaches lies a strong need for technology to enable effective communication. Gone are the days when security guards are armed just with a torch, hard boots and walkie-talkie radio.  To protect stores, employees need the correct tools to communicate. This will enable them to work together effectively to not only prevent incidents scaling, but to catch perpetrators in the act, in a collaborative effort.

However, what is the best technology?  Smartphones prove impractical in emergency situations as the time taken to make calls and wait for colleagues to respond is too long.

Alternatively, PoC (Push-to-Talk over Cellular) offers a more reliable solution. Retail staff can instantly communicate on an open channel and effortlessly report any misconduct or known offenders who have entered the store, thereby supporting the security teams.

Similar to smartphones, PoC operates on 3G, 4G, 5G, and WiFi, eliminating the need for significant investments in central infrastructure and allowing for quick deployment. In addition to emergency incidents, shop assistants can readily report other issues that require attention, such as spills in aisles, flooding in toilets, or improperly stacked shelves to help improve customer experience.

Moreover, there are a wide range of devices available, some of which come equipped with dual functionality, combining features like Push to Talk and Body Worn Cameras in a single device. This eliminates the necessity for security teams to carry multiple devices, resulting in significant cost and energy savings. With only one device to charge, maintain, and dispose of at the end of its lifespan, the overall efficiency and convenience is greatly enhanced.


Today, the sector grappling with a shortage of staff. Yet, crime and antisocial behaviour is on the rise. In many cases teams are also not always making use of modern technology and approaches towards managing security operations and reducing anti-social behaviour.

The use of CCTV, coupled with modern communication technology, and a more effective joined up approach to security provides the industry, retailers and events organisers an answer to managing this problem for both their employees and the public at large.

CCTV MONTH: The evolution of CCTV in commercial security – A decade of transformation

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) has long been a cornerstone of commercial security. Over the past decade, however, the capabilities and functions of CCTV systems have evolved tremendously, driven by technological advancements and the changing needs of businesses. Let’s dive into the key developments that have shaped the world of commercial CCTV in the past ten years, as relayed by delegates and suppliers at the Total Security Summit…

  1. High-Definition Video Quality: Early CCTV systems often produced grainy and low-resolution footage, limiting their effectiveness. The last decade has seen a shift to HD and even 4K video quality. This has drastically improved the clarity of surveillance footage, allowing for better identification of individuals, license plates, and other critical details.
  2. Smart Analytics: The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has transformed passive CCTV cameras into proactive security tools. Modern systems can detect unusual movements, count people, recognise license plates, and even identify left-behind or removed objects. By alerting security personnel in real-time, these intelligent analytics enhance responsiveness to potential threats.
  3. Remote Monitoring: With the proliferation of cloud technology, CCTV footage can now be accessed and monitored remotely. Whether through dedicated applications or web portals, security managers can view live streams or archived footage from anywhere, ensuring constant surveillance and immediate response to incidents.
  4. Integration with Other Systems: Modern CCTV solutions often seamlessly integrate with other security systems, such as access control, alarm systems, and perimeter detection. This interconnectedness ensures a more comprehensive and cohesive security approach, where one system’s trigger can activate another – for instance, a breach in a perimeter might automatically redirect camera focus to the affected area.
  5. Enhanced Night Vision: Advancements in infrared technology and low-light cameras have significantly improved CCTV functionality in the dark. Today’s systems provide clear footage even in minimal light conditions, ensuring round-the-clock surveillance efficacy.
  6. Wireless Capabilities: While wired CCTV cameras still dominate many commercial settings, the rise of wireless cameras has added flexibility and reduced installation complexities. These cameras, often powered by batteries and connected via Wi-Fi, can be placed in locations where wiring might be challenging.
  7. Data Protection Features: With the growing emphasis on data protection regulations, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), CCTV systems have incorporated features to ensure privacy. This includes data encryption, masking or blurring certain zones, and secure storage and transmission protocols.
  8. Cost-Effective Solutions: As technology has become more accessible and manufacturing processes more efficient, high-quality CCTV solutions are now more affordable for businesses of all sizes. This democratisation has expanded the adoption of advanced CCTV systems beyond large corporations to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The past decade has been pivotal for the world of commercial CCTV. No longer just passive recording devices, modern CCTV systems are dynamic, intelligent, and integral to a comprehensive security strategy. As technology continues to advance, one can only anticipate further innovations that will redefine the realm of commercial surveillance.

Are you researching CCTV solutions for your business? The Total Security Summit can help!

Photo by Joe Gadd on Unsplash

Hosted physical security adoption given ‘major boost’ by uptake in cloud

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

New research into the impact of COVID-19 on physical security purchasing decisions has revealed a sharp increase in the necessity/urgency for businesses to adopt hosted video surveillance (VSaaS) and access control (ACaaS) solutions.

While 70% of 1000 senior decision makers in IT, security, FM and HR roles agree this to be the case, 78% also anticipate their organisations’ use of cloud technologies to increase in the future as a result of COVID-19.

The independent survey, commissioned by hosted security provider Morphean, revealed that over three-quarters (76%) of senior managers in UK, Germany and Sweden have increased their use of video conferencing (e.g. Microsoft Teams); 65% have increased their use of office applications (e.g. Microsoft 365); and 70% of those in the security sector are now strongly inclined towards cloud adoption.

51% say their company is currently using a cloud-based service for video surveillance (VSaaS) and/or access control (ACaaS). This is an increase of 3% over 2019 (48%) and broadly reflects projected growth in the physical security market from USD $93.5b in 2020 to USD $120.3b by 2025 at a CAGR of 5.2%. The accelerating adoption of hosted solutions is buoyed by its low cost set up, flexible scalability and demand for real-time and remote access to security data.

Analytics will drive adoption say 95%

For the security professional already working with cloud services, the growth in connected digital devices through the IoT is resulting in a growing appetite for physical security, such as network cameras, to enhance existing IT systems and assist business intelligence gathering. 95% agree that if an existing security system could deliver insights beyond security to assist decision making (i.e. occupancy or test and trace analytics), it would influence adoption.

82% say flexible and remote working will grow 

More flexibility in working locations is the benefit respondents are most likely to identify from moving business functions to the cloud (50%), followed by easier collaboration (44%); more cost-effective (44%); safer / better security (38%). 82% anticipate the levels/frequency of remote workers and flexible working in their organisations to be higher post-pandemic and in the longer term than they were pre-pandemic.

Security will need to be enhanced to facilitate greater flexibility in worker patterns. An access control solution which is linked to HR records, for example, can check the swipe of an access card against staff records. A staff member who is flagged as being on leave, absent or no longer employed will trigger an automated alert to the relevant personnel. Surveillance cameras also provide secondary authentication through visual clarification of an individual’s identity.

The ‘Landscape Report 2020/21: Hosted Security adoption in Europe is the third study of its kind by Morphean, and facilitates a better understanding of market trends with comparative data from 2018 and 2019. Other key findings revealed by the study include:

  • 78% anticipate organisational use of cloud technologies to increase in the future as a result of COVID-19. The security sector reflected a strong inclination towards cloud adoption (70%).
  • IT Services (52%) and Commercial Offices (49%) are the two sectors that anticipated the greatest degree of change in their organisation’s use of cloud technology.
  • 73% of managers believe their organisations are more inclined to adopt cloud as a result of their governments’ responses to COVID-19 – UK (74%), Germany (71%) and Sweden (73%).
  • 27% said physical security was optimised in their companies, a rise of 4% on 2019 (23%). The retail sector was least likely to say that physical security was optimised (19%).
  • VSaaS/ACaaS uptake shown to be more prevalent in Sweden with 59% already utilising such services, with 34% in UK and 31% in Germany considering it.

Rodrigue Zbinden, CEO of Morphean SA, said: “The results highlight a hosted physical security market that will see strong growth in 2021 as cloud applications are proven to deliver business continuity in challenging times. At the height of the lockdown, many business premises were unoccupied and potentially vulnerable, but remote monitoring and maintenance made possible by hosted security were a welcome advantage. We also saw a spike in demand for frictionless access control enabling a totally hands-free experience and negating the need for physical contact. Business leaders will now be considering the learnings from the past year and looking to apply them to boost productivity, streamline costs and make organisations more agile.

“For the physical security reseller, the study will demonstrate that hosted security solutions must play a major part in expanding their offering to a wiser customer base. Cloud-enabled physical security solutions represent an investment into improving securityand operations, a chance to forge new business relationships, and an opportunity to embrace future proof technologies in preparation for whatever challenges the future might hold.”

Number of CCTV Cameras in the UK reaches 5.2 million

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The number of CCTV Cameras in the UK may be as many as 5.2 million, with 1 camera for every 13 people as the popularity of public surveillance, home CCTV and doorbell camera use increases.

That’s according to research, which says 96% of the total number of cameras in the UK are now operated by private businesses and homeowners.

“It won’t come as a shock to most people that the number of CCTV Cameras in the UK has hit a new high, driven mainly by residents installing home CCTV in the last year. The popularity of doorbell cameras is relentless”, said James Ritchey from CCTV installation company

Previously the number of cameras in the UK was estimated at 4.8 million, however it is now believed that this number has jumped to 5.2 million as the cost of technology comes down and the popularity of sub-£200 surveillance camera systems and doorbell cameras increases.

Anxiety over lockdown and the increase in mail order purchases has driven the use of DIY CCTV systems at home for monitoring and security purposes.

“The technology is getting much cheaper, and when we look at the number of doorbell cameras, DIY CCTV and Home CCTV systems being installed by homeowners currently, we think the numbers have risen much more than we previously thought”, said Ritchey.

There is no exact number available as to how many CCTV cameras there are, as a camera does not need to be officially registered – anyone can install CCTV to protect their property.

However, says it can predict with some accuracy that the number of CCTV cameras in London totals 691,000.

A survey in 2002 by writers Michael McCahill and Clive Norris predicted 1 camera for every 14 people, and in high density areas this rises to 1 in 11. However, 18 years later we know these figures are somewhat inaccurate. believes a figure of 1 for every 13 people is now a more acceptable average across UK cities.

Freedom of Information requests uncover that cameras operated by Local Authorities, Police and London Transport total 23,708 – which is just 3.4% of the total number in London. The remainder of CCTV cameras are operated by private businesses and homeowners totally over 96% – a number which is ever increasing.

Cities with the most CCTV Cameras in the UK:

  • 689,000 – London
  • 83,000 – Birmingham
  • 58,000 – Leeds
  • 46,000 – Glasgow
  • 43,000 – Sheffield
  • 39,000 – Manchester
  • 38,000 – Edinburgh
  • 36,000 – Liverpool
  • 33,000 – Bristol
  • 27,000 – Cardiff
  • 26,000 – Leicester
  • 25,000 – Coventry
  • 24,000 – Nottingham
  • 23,000 – Bradford
  • 22,000 – Belfast
  • 22,000 – Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 20,000 – Milton Keynes
  • 20,000 – Plymouth
  • 20,000 – Hull      
  • 20,000 – Wolverhampton

“These numbers may send shivers down the spine of those worried about state monitoring, however it appears that the Government controls less than 4% of the total CCTV cameras in the UK – most are just homeowners protecting their property”, added Ritchey.

ICO cautions against live facial recognition

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The ICO has raised concerns about usage of live facial recognition technology (LFR) by the UK law enforcement community, with the current legal framework not fit for purpose.

In a blog post on the ICO website, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham stated that the “laws, codes and practices relating to LFR will not drive the ethical and legal approach that’s needed to truly manage the risk that this technology presents.”

The ICO has been investigating trials of LFR by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and South Wales Police (SWP), which it says raise serious concerns about the use of a technology that relies on huge amounts of sensitive personal information.

That investigation has culminated in the ICO making its findings and recommendations public in its the first Commissioner’s Opinion, which makes clear that there are well-defined data protection rules which police forces need to follow before and during deployment of LFR.

“The Opinion recognises the high statutory threshold that must be met to justify the use of LFR, and demonstrate accountability, under the UK’s data protection law,” wrote Denham. “That threshold is appropriate considering the potential invasiveness of this technology. My Opinion also sets out the practical steps police forces must take to demonstrate legal compliance.”

Denham also points out that while public support for the police using facial recognition to catch criminals is high, it is less so when it comes to the private sector operating the technology in a quasi-law enforcement capacity.

“We are separately investigating this use of LFR in the private sector, including where LFR in used in partnership with law enforcement. We will be reporting on those findings in due course,” she added.

Image by Oliver Peters from Pixabay

Global physical security demand to reach $153 billion by 2026

960 639 Stuart O'Brien

The global physical security market has been pegged at $78 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach $153 billion by 2026, equivalent to a CAGR of 11% between 2019 an d the end of the forecast period.

The study, conducted by Report Consultant, cites increasing demand for security measures against terrorist attacks and for controlling the business assets.

Secondary factors include increasing usage of IoT and the development of smart transportation systems to track the location of automobiles.

For the purposes of the research, Report Consultant describes physical security as measures designed to protect the property from any attacks and to cease unauthorised access – it’s clearly a broad term which includes CCTV surveillance, security guards, protective barriers, locks, access control protocols, security scanning, metal detection, etc, hence the large forecasted value.

Key global players highlighted in the report include Anixter International Inc. (U.S.), Cisco Systems, Inc. (U.S.), Tyco International PLC (Ireland), Bosch Security Systems, Inc. (Germany), ADT Corporation (U.S.), Genetec Inc. (Canada), Honeywell International, Inc. (U.S.), Pelco (U.S.), Stanley Security (U.S.) and Senstar Corporation (Canada).

Government pushes Secure by Default CCTV initiative

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The Surveillance Camera Commissioner has launched Secure by Default – minimum requirements for manufacturers of surveillance camera systems and components.

The government says the move is driven by the need to ensure the UK’s resilience against cyber security vulnerability, as well as to provide the best possible assurance that cameras are manufactured to minimum cyber secure requirements.

It says the minimum requirements are an important step forward for manufacturers, installers and users alike. Manufacturers self-certify their products as secure by default.

S.A.F.E systems were the first organisation to be awarded the mark. Dave Lawrie, Director, said: “Given the fact that our main focus is the provision, supply and installation of CCTV systems into licensed vehicles, secure by default is essential not only for driver and local authority confidence in our product and service, but for public confidence in the security of their data.”

Easy application process

Manufacturers can demonstrate they meet the minimum requirements by completing a self-certification form and submitting it to the Commissioner’s office for validation.

Lawrie added: “The application process was very straight forward, the majority of the questions asked were within our default design anyway so easy to answer, it was also very reassuring that any aspects which required further correspondence were not simply dismissed, but were actually followed up on to gain a greater understanding of our product. It was very professional.”

Organisations who are successful in their application will be issued with a certificate and Secure by Default certification mark from the Commissioner and will have their products listed on the Commissioner’s website.

To find out more about the Secure by Default certification, how to apply and which organisations have been awarded the certification mark visit the Commissioner’s website.

NYPD to deploy drones in fight against crime

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The NYPD has unveiled its Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program, which will be comprised of newly acquired Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or drones, and licensed NYPD officers of the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) who will operate them.

The tech will be used across various operations, including search and rescue, inaccessible crime scenes, hostage situations, or hazardous material incidents

The Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) provides specialised investigative equipment and tactical support to all bureaus within the NYPD, from officers on patrol to the Emergency Service Unit (ESU).

The NYPD says its new unit’s expertise in audio/visual technology will help enhance investigations through the recovery of surveillance video footage; record police action at large-scale demonstrations and arrest situations; and provide crucial live video to incident commanders during ongoing emergency situations.

“As the largest municipal police department in the United States, the NYPD must always be willing to leverage the benefits of new and always-improving technology,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “Our new UAS program is part of this evolution – it enables our highly-trained cops to be even more responsive to the people we serve, and to carry out the NYPD’s critical work in ways that are more effective, efficient, and safe for everyone.”

The UAS program can help NYPD gather crucial information as situations unfold without putting officers at risk and lessen harm and danger to civilian bystanders and other involved parties.

Across the US there are more than 900 state and local police, fire and emergency units with UAVs. During the NYPD’s research and development stage, NYPD officials met with other police departments to learn about their programs.

Additionally, the Department solicited feedback from City Council members and advocates.

Guest Blog, Paul Dodds: Delivering security and privacy with video surveillance systems…

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Paul Dodds is the country manager UK & Ireland at Genetec Inc. Paul has over 14 years security industry experience across installation, manufacturing and distribution. Having trained as an electronic engineer and installer, Paul has held senior positions with Xtralis, Honeywell and ESI

With recent high profile cases in the media, it seems that the public is both increasingly aware of and concerned about the relationship between security and privacy. And while it’s often discussed as an either/or scenario, those of us in the security industry know that there are many more variables to consider than that.

After all, people are reassured by the presence of security devices like cameras and access control panels. Being aware of physical security installations can make us feel safe in locations where we might otherwise feel vulnerable. At the same time, however, no one likes the idea of being monitored while going about daily tasks.

The fact is that recent advances in technology are making it easier for us to secure our businesses, organisations and communities with new ‘privacy enabled’ encryption and masking features that also uphold our right to privacy by default.

Image masking for privacy

A really exciting advancement is ‘Foreground Masking’, a new technology that allows organisations to mask individuals in video by default. With Foreground Masking, the system captures two images. The first is a full-resolution or non-blurred image that is immediately encrypted and stored.  If the footage is ever required for an investigation, a copy of the full resolution, non-altered video data can be retrieved once the appropriate permissions have been acquired, albeit local, municipal, or federal order.

The second image is auto-redacted or blurred to obscure the identity of anyone seen on the video. Organisations can set their systems to blur or pixelate entire figures in their video footage. It is this second image that is seen by security operators or used on monitoring displays.

This advancement represents a shift in how we think about capturing video. Where once footage was broadcast as captured and then redacted after the fact to protect the identities of innocent civilians, Foreground Masking obscures identities at the source and then to provides unmasked copies only once a compelling reason to reveal them is established.

Authentication with multi-factor smart card credentials

Another advancement in security technology is the use of Credentialed High Assurance Video Encryption (CHAVE™), a protocol introduced by our technology partner Bosch Security Systems, Inc. Through the use of CHAVE™ enabled systems, like the one developed by Bosch, Genetec Inc., and Secure Experts, organisations can ensure that both live and recorded video is accessible to only a defined set of viewers.

CHAVE™ enabled systems provide secure identification and authentication through multi-factor smart card credentials. This IP video solution increases your system’s resilience against unauthorised access, malware, brute force cracking, and other exploit techniques.  In addition, it also helps to ensure privacy as only authorised and trained security personnel have access to video footage.

End-to-end encryption

A third tool that supports individual privacy by helping to maintain the security of a security system is end-to-end encryption. More specifically, this protocol is based on Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP), which hardens surveillance content against cyber-attacks and unauthorised interception.

SRTP encryption for content archiving, as well as for content in transmission between servers and their clients, protects the integrity and privacy of surveillance content from the ‘edge’, or the camera, all the way to the Archiver and Security Desk.

As the public is catching up with our concerns, those of us in the security industry have been hard at work developing tools and solutions that will deliver both security and privacy.  With new Foreground Masking technology that masks identities by default, CHAVE™ enabled technology for authenticating users and access and SRTP encryption for protecting the data from the time it leaves the ‘edge’ all the way to the archive in a security system, we are able to provide the security that organisations and citizens need while ensuring the privacy that they want.