Hi-Tech Security Solutions readers are exposed to many elements of the surveillance industry in the magazine and online, as well as in the various conferences and webinars we hold. The topics presented mainly focus on technology and its advances and capabilities, as well as insights into specific areas of expertise, such as control room staffing and efficiency in our regular columns from Dr Craig Donald.
What is sometimes missing is the link between technology, detection and apprehension of suspects and the process to use surveillance footage as evidence that will be accepted in court and contribute to convicting criminals, or be accepted as evidence in disciplinary hearings.
Sonja de Klerk, recently retired Brigadier from the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory, and someone who has spoken at a few iLegal conferences over the years, has written a book on the subject, aptly subtitled the ‘A – Z guide from the control room to court’, which is currently available as an e-book. De Klerk was the section head of Scientific Analysis, one of the six sections at the Forensic Science Laboratory. She was attached to the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory for more than 27 years.
The book’s title is ‘The Complete Manual on CCTV Management’. It avoids any discussion on technology selection and implementation and focuses on the process of managing your installation effectively and collecting evidence for criminal proceedings (or disciplinary procedures). Importantly, De Klerk also covers the process in the courtroom, advising readers on what to expect and how to behave.
To quote De Klerk, “This manual was drafted to address specific shortcomings in successfully using CCTV material in criminal cases and disciplinary procedures. To secure the integrity of CCTV material, the information in this manual must be used as guidelines and minimum required criteria.”
Supporting records and paper trails
We often believe that simply showing a video of some action or crime is enough to fulfil the needs of evidence. After all, if you can see the person clearly, what more could you need?
When it comes to dealing with defence attorneys in a court, you may need a lot more. De Klerk explains that to be able to defend their client, the defence will often want to see the trail, or chain of evidence, which includes a paper trail. You could be required to show the full investigation, the process of gathering evidence, the documentation of the systems you use as well as your standard operating procedures (SOPs) your security operation adheres to.
It is advisable, says De Klerk, to run a test to ensure your security operation can produce all the paperwork and records the defence may request. This, of course, also means your event management processes and procedures must be up to cross examination.
Know your system
De Klerk adds that familiarity with your surveillance system is also imperative, explaining the ‘BAD SOC’ process which stands for:
• Backup capacity.
• Archiving process and frequency.
• Downloading procedure.
• Overwrite frequency.
• Colour/black-and-white system.
She goes into more detail on each of these. At the end of most chapters, De Klerk also offers some key questions to help the reader ensure they understand the contents and are able to apply them effectively to their particular situation.
The book also covers issues such as synchronising the time across your system, marking your cameras, system manuals, who has access to their systems and more.
Incident management is also covered and readers are advised to implement a standardised approach to handling incidents, with special emphasis on what to do in terms of collecting evidence. Video footage should be collected on CD-R or DVD-R media only (to ensure there is no tampering) and only saved on new media, not reusable discs.
An authorised person must save a master copy of the evidence in a secure location with access control. All access and the reason for it must be recorded. The master copy must be labelled as such and other copies are to be labelled as ‘working copies’. The serial numbers on the media must also be accurately recorded.
De Klerk also touches on making sure that the video footage captured is able to identify a person – the court relies on visual identification, not the latest facial recognition technology. The face or vehicle must clearly fill at least 50% of the monitor, which should give pause to those who opt for low resolution, cheap cameras, or those who install cameras high above face level.
Securing the master copy (the original data) is critical for court cases. De Klerk quotes a case where it was stated: “... it is impossible to detect manipulation in the absence of the original data…”.
She devotes the ninth chapter to appearing in court, touching on what to expect, what not to do and other important issues those not accustomed to court appearances will find useful. Even issues such as how to answer questions and to whom the answer should be addressed are covered.
Other areas covered include traceability of records as well as what records could be requested as part of the paper trail. De Klerk also touches on training and recruitment to provide a complete review of what managing your surveillance system will encompass.
Readers interesting in obtaining the book are invited to contact Sonja de Klerk at firstname.lastname@example.org
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