CCTV in retail

April 2007 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

CCTV plays a valuable role in combating crime through a combination of both proactive and reactive crime prevention measures.

A classic example of this is the use of CCTV as deterrence to all potential perpetrators, including staff, thus implying that they will be aware of the fact that their actions are recorded. On the reactive side, CCTV can assist the police in identifying the perpetrators and can also be utilised in various criminal justice procedures as evidence in a court to ensure fair and legal prosecution to all parties involved. However, the latter can only be accomplished if CCTV systems are accepted as a reliable source of evidence.

Through the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa a working group was formed to determine: a minimum technical requirement for CCTV surveillance systems in the retail industry in South Africa during and after hours that will ensure the appropriate/sufficient quality images under different physical and environmental circumstances in and around stores for monitoring, detection, recognition and identification with the specific purpose of generating video footage that will support investigations and successful prosecution.

In this White Paper the following aspects of CCTV are explored: Technical Aspects, Installation and Management Aspects, Legal and Evidentiary Aspects.

Although technical aspects are addressed in the Technical section, the aim was to limit specifications that might lead to the White Paper being outdated in the near future due to technology developments. The aspects addressed included:

The system purpose; whether for monitoring, detection, recognition or identification.

Required system performance including a performance guideline, a guideline table for camera, video recorder, operator and control room components.

Installation and Management Aspects addressed the following:

Restrictions of cameras installed may include the detection of movement rather than identification; black and white systems are insufficient for identification of clothing and vehicle colour; the use of compression techniques may result in low-resolution images.

Role players and responsibilities are indicated in this section in order to ensure that the correct service and guidelines for installation are followed, including the retailer and system provider. This section also includes guidelines for provider selection and camera selection, placement and picture quality. Installation and management also includes best practice systems for installers as well as what training programmes to users should include. As well as using CCTV for measuring performance in a company and as a result either reprimand or incentivise staff accordingly.

The purpose of including the legal and evidentiary aspects in this document is to standardise protocols in the handling of video/DVD or other material that has evidential value that is in the possession of private persons employed by the retail industry. During the investigation of offences committed and incidents in chain stores, the visual footage, captured on close circuit television (CCTV) equipment is of crucial importance during the investigation and procedures that could follow. Included in this section are: Important aspects of CCTV evidence, rules applicable to digital images, the chain of custody, persons usually involved in the handling of evidence, information for CGCSA as well as pitfalls to watch out for.

This document also includes recommended checklists for operational requirements of the camera, recommended basic formats for basic affidavits and a recommended general checklist for the CCTV system.

The experts who shared their expertise in compiling this document included members from CSIR, SAPS Forensic, Retail Business Intelligence (RBI), Spar, MBRS, Business Against Crime, SACO.

A copy of the White Paper is available from the CGC CPP at a cost of R285.

For more information contact Selma Black, CGC CPP, +27 (0)861 101 726,,

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