CCTV: an insight
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a CCTV operator? Films and TV tend to give the impression that CCTV operators are bored, rarely essential to the plot and easily out witted by a criminal mastermind. The truth is rather different.
Successful CCTV Operators are mindful, alert, and scrupulous individuals who are highly dedicated to protecting others. They have the ability to quickly identify patterns and abnormalities. They work calmly and methodically in often fast-moving situations.
What does a CCTV operator do on an average day? A standard shift might cover scanning screens for: missing persons, anti-social behaviour, road traffic accidents, shoplifting, drunk and disorderly, assaults, drug abuse, domestic violence, drink driving, dangerous driving, or movement of drugs through the area.
No shift is ever the same and incidents do not occur in the same place or time. The operator must observe all the monitors and look for things that do not appear right. On finding one of these the operator takes a closer look to decide if there is anything untoward. When an incident is found the operator will then inform the police who will allocate an officer to the incident. The operator will continue observing the area and keep the police informed of anything happening at the scene and if the perpetrators leave the scene, which direction they go in. If the police attend, an operator keeps on watching, protecting any officers who may be on the scene.
The police often contact CCTV for help with incidents for example, tracking a vehicle.
Businesses that are part of the local shopwatch scheme will contact the control room to report shoplifting. The operator will then alert all others on the shopwatch network as to what is happening. Similarly, door staff and pubwatch members keep in contact with CCTV and the Police, all working together to make our area safer.
Often people forget that CCTV is there or ignore it, but the presence of cameras means individuals may be caught on camera for possible legal proceedings. It is hard to argue in court it wasn’t you when the footage shows it was. When incidents are occurring, often a second operator will be working, as multiple cameras may need to be watched and moved, the radios need answering, possibly the phone as well.
The observation side of the control room is only one part of the operation. Police ask for footage of events. This requires a proper process and procedure to be followed and so good record keeping is another part of a CCTV operators skill set. Following a police request, the operator will the review camera footage, using times, dates and location to find the incident. Relevant footage can then be safely and securely passed to the Police.
Warminster and Westbury CCTV have covered every possible crime and has great success with bringing some nasty incidents to court.
CCTV operator is not a job that everyone can do, but if you are interested, CCTV is always on the lookout for volunteers. Obviously, volunteers must undergo training and pass a security check, but if you feel you could spare some time on a regular basis to help keep our community safer, contact Warminster Town Council and they will be in touch.
Last modified: 1 September 2021