Recommendations and Guidelines for Using Closed-Circuit Television Security Systems in Commercial Institutions: Part 1: Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology (SWGIT)

Forensic Science Communications, January 2005 | Go to article overview

Recommendations and Guidelines for Using Closed-Circuit Television Security Systems in Commercial Institutions: Part 1: Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology (SWGIT)


Version 2.1 July 22, 2004

1. Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide recommendations and guidelines for the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) security systems in commercial institutions, such as banks and convenience stores. For the purpose of this document, stationary unattended cameras and on-site recording devices will be discussed. The basic principles and recommendations can, in most cases, be applied to any system using CCTV cameras and video recorders. This document addresses analog and digital video systems. The intent of these recommendations and guidelines is to optimize image quality to facilitate the identification of unknown people and objects depicted therein.

This document does not specifically address employee theft or other internal security issues, although some of the recommendations can be applied to those problems. Likewise, this document does not address live monitored surveillance systems. References that address such systems are included in Appendix A, References.

Furthermore, these guidelines are not intended to replace or take precedence over other regulatory requirements in the specific jurisdiction of the facility to which these guidelines will be applied.

2. Position

The use of CCTV systems and the recording of security images is an accepted practice in commercial institutions, such as banks, convenience stores, and other facilities. In addition to deterring crime, this practice can often facilitate the apprehension and conviction of people involved in criminal activity. It is the position of the Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technology that in order to optimize the use of these systems, the following criteria should be met:

* Recordings that depict criminal activity must be preserved in a manner that permits law enforcement officials to recover the original images with a documented chain of custody. (Chain of custody is the chronological documentation of the movement, location, and possession of evidence.)

* The number, placement, and type of cameras should be sufficient to provide adequate coverage and detail in the monitored area.

* There should be adequate, balanced lighting in the monitored area.

* Institutions should establish and follow a program of regular system maintenance.

* Institutions should have documented procedures to ensure that employees know what to do in the event of a criminal incident.

This document addresses electronic CCTV security recording systems only. It does not address the use of film-based or digital-still cameras. This document is not intended to suggest removing film surveillance systems or digital-still cameras from the affected facilities. Due to the fact that images recorded using film and digital-still cameras are usually of higher quality than video images, the continued use of such systems, where existing, is strongly encouraged.

3. Introduction

A CCTV security system may include a single camera or multiple cameras. Coverage can include checkout areas, walk-up or drive-up automated teller machines, public-service areas, entrance or exit doors, work areas, interior corridors or common building hallways, and exterior or interior parking areas.

A camera system may include cameras, a monitor to view the camera images, a recording device to capture selected images, or software or a switching system to control the method of selecting and storing images. Depending on the location and situation, video-camera systems may use an analog videocassette recorder (VCR) , a digital video recorder (DVR), or a PC-based digital recording capture station to record images from the cameras. Finally, a means of retrieving and storing images must be incorporated into the system.

This document addresses CCTV systems in the following seven areas:

* System Design (Section 5)

* Recording Systems (Section 6)

* Cameras (Section 7)

* Media (Section 8)

* System Maintenance (Section 9)

* Retention of Recordings (Section 10)

* Evidence Handling (Section 11)

4. …

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