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Green light for bin lorry cameras

Boston Borough Council features on the Government's surveillance cameras commissioner's website following its recent inspection when it was described as "a beacon of good practice for others to follow".

The website article at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/surveillance-camera-commissioner is headed "Surveillance cameras on bin lorries: Boston Borough Council follows the code".

The article quotes Matt Fisher, Operations Manager at Boston Borough Council, as saying: "We've introduced cameras on our refuse lorries to reduce the risk of fraudulent claims for damages or injury, fraudulent insurance claims in respect of accidents and incidents, as well as to improve safety, efficiency, performance and customer service.

"The cameras have helped speed up the decision-making process around complaints and accident investigation as the evidence secured by cameras has removed the need to make decisions only on the balance of probability."

Principle 3 of the surveillance camera code of practice covers making people aware that cameras are in use - being as transparent and open as possible so that people know who is using the system.

Matt said: "A key thing for us when we introduced the cameras was to make sure that our residents knew why they were being used. We carried out a media campaign with press articles in local papers, information on our website and all the vehicles are fitted with signage saying who is operating the cameras and where to go for more information.

"We read the code and completed the self assessment tool to challenge our policy and made changes where required. We've also published the individual policies on our website and undertook individual privacy impact assessments for all CCTV systems operated at the council.

An inspector from the commission, which checks compliance with legislation so far as covert surveillance is concerned, has reported that the council "has remained entirely focused on the nature of its responsibilities and the need to ensure that, even if the event is unlikely, if and when the need may arise, its activities will be lawful".

The inspector said the council has achieved a high standard of RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) compliance.

Training given to staff was praised as being made relevant.

The inspector reviewed use of the council's CCTV system, and use of the system in order to assist police enquiries. He found that the council was fully aware of the commissioners' code of practice for covert surveillance.

David Buxton, the surveillance inspector, said he was particularly impressed with the leadership and commitment demonstrated by Chief Executive Phil Drury, senior responsible officer Michelle Sacks and RIPA coordinator Andy Fisher

Cllr Stephen Woodliffe, the council's portfolio holder for regulatory services and community safety, said: "The findings are a credit to the council and provide a huge endorsement of our practices and lawful compliance. The public can have confidence in our ability to use the systems and authority at our disposal responsibly and lawfully."