The role of performance ­management systems in CCTV ­surveillance effectiveness

June 2017 Editor's Choice, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

The potential for the detection of incident or crime conditions will vary from environment to environment. Given that, it makes it almost impossible to have a general performance standard or level for CCTV operators. Even similar sites in different places may have a different crime profile.

Further, on any site there may be different functions that surveillance may have to view. This could include compliance, safety, crime, or intelligence gathering all being a possible focus for surveillance. With compliance and safety becoming significant corporate areas in themselves, it isn’t uncommon for security or surveillance to be placed with or even put under managers of such functions. Even new managers following on from each other may have a changed focus or altered priority for different areas for surveillance.

Having a defined performance management framework and system for CCTV surveillance outcomes and operators is therefore extremely important. In a sense, this kind of system reflects the strategy and expectations of surveillance. A company with little to show in terms of surveillance outcomes is going to have top management questioning the rationale for spending such money on expensive systems.

If there is not a high crime profile, management should be confident that operators are looking at things that are responsible for managing or reducing the opportunities for crime. In other words, performance can be about the active management of operations to limit crime, as well as to actually detect crime. In this sense, surveillance justifies its existence and cost as a system, and the role and jobs of operators.

Being able to say you have covered and inspected relevant areas as part of compliance auditing, for example, may be part of the performance management. An important aspect of this though, is that organisations need to be careful not to create an ‘administrative measure’ where just the act of routinely viewing certain things becomes the end point for performance. In these types of situations, tick box performance can become routine without even thinking about what you are supposed to be watching. It effectively just becomes paying lip service to performance. Aspects such as continual auditing and questioning are essential in effective surveillance. Nothing indicates performance better than detection.

Systematic performance management

A surveillance performance management system needs to systematically cover the relevant areas. If the security department has a strategy document, this should ideally translate into a strategy document for ­surveillance, and then be reflected in the performance management system for ­operators. This is likely to have a range of content from high risk events leading to arrests, to more common surveillance tasks. These areas should be graded and weighted according to risk and detection difficulty. Grading or rating of incidents is essential if they are to have value relative to one another.

Whether a person picks up a simple housekeeping failure as opposed to subtle detection of crime signatures that result in an arrest need to be clearly differentiated if people are to address themselves to more critical issues and get appropriate recognition. Such grading or weighting of the type of incident detected needs to be based on a realistic risk appraisal and rewards need to be aligned with the difficulty of detection. Otherwise you will have loads of minimal impact events reported on rather than anything showing substantive insight and achievement.

The formula loading or weighting the importance of needs to be developed with the management group and signed off by the security or surveillance manager. Some kind of expected target or quota may also be set up which is seen as reasonable in terms of the risk profile and the conditions. The use of group competition through comparison of detection results against other shifts, or on another group basis also allows increased motivation to do well. The advantage is that the team members encourage and motivate each other.

Should you cap performance bonuses?

This is a potentially dangerous practice. It would be expected that with additional detection, the organisation is getting a constantly increasing benefit. It therefore makes sense to try and promote the continual improvement of performance of operators, even after they hit a quota. You may, however, find that as the system matures and the detection rates leads to a reduction of crime or criminals, targets or quotas need to be revised to be realistic.

Changing performance criteria needs to be done carefully. It is easy to demotivate people by changing the goal posts and rewards which can happen when the measurement of success is changed. This can sometimes be seen in marketing or points based retail reward schemes where the value of items gets changed after it becomes almost too successful. In CCTV, you can never have too much performance – it does mean that the initial system needs to be thought through as carefully as possible.

An electronic system whether based on a spreadsheet, electronic OB, or intelligence reporting system is also a major success component in the performance system. The past has seen paper OBs stacked up and leaving the premises on a monthly basis to be stored away in warehouses for years where they never get looked at again.

Never mind the cost of storage, the inability to use the data generated from reporting is a major loss to the company. With electronic systems, it is not just reported contraventions that count, but other patterns of information can be obtained by mining information – unexpected repeated visits, issues at certain times of day, presence of people during event conditions etc. However, somebody needs to pay attention to the logged results – they need to be reviewed, graded, and entered into a performance or intelligence system that can issue similar results. Visual representation of performance through graphing results, showing trends over time, and using an electronic system to analyse trends, hotspots, key performers gives a performance reference to both management and operators

Finally, in any performance management system, the outputs need to be closely monitored and looked at by management on an ongoing basis. Further, there needs to be regular feedback and response from management, as well as review discussions aimed at development of both performers and non-performers. Management needs to recognise the people’s effort rather than the performance management system lapsing into an administrative logging system. People need to get excited about performance, and the process needs to be led by management guided by a defined strategy.

Dr Craig Donald is a human factors specialist in security and CCTV. He is a director of Leaderware which provides instruments for the selection of CCTV operators, X-ray screeners and other security personnel in major operations around the world. He also runs CCTV Surveillance Skills and Body Language, and Advanced Surveillance Body Language courses for CCTV operators, supervisors and managers internationally, and consults on CCTV management. He can be contacted on +27 (0)11 787 7811 or


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