Investigation over ‘not secure’ park cameras

Holbeach Parish Council is being investigated after claims its CCTV cameras in parks and cemeteries, including one that was stolen, weren’t “safe or secure”.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is looking into breaches of the Data Protection Act after a complaint by a member of the public about a camera overseeing a children’s play area.

A resulting Holbeach Parish Council internal investigation has revealed that the council was told that the CCTV cameras did not have sufficient protection in March this year by a professional who carried out maintenance on them.

The note on the invoice as seen by The Voice states: “In my opinion the cameras you have installed currently are not suitable for the application they are being used for; they are more of a domestic use deterrent and not a reliable or safe and secure solution to CCTV application.”

The town’s remaining CCTV camera was taken down last week with others having been stolen said Coun Sophie Hutchinson who carried out the investigation.

Four were initially installed in 2018 with the first having been reported stolen in April 2019.

Last week The Voice reported that a CCTV camera and its memory card were stolen from Carter’s Park on June 5 this year while the parks were being left unlocked for a trial period. They’ve since been locked.

Coun Hutchinson stated: “I can’t find any evidence that any of the councillors knew themselves about the advice from the contractor and it was not brought up in any council meetings or correspondences.

“I realised immediately it’s a serious situation and contacted all councillors.”

The council’s CCTV champion Paula Silva told this newspaper last week following the June 5 theft that “the system uses an SD card that autowrites over itself and had been encrypted, with policies in place.”

When The Voice asked for a comment from Holbeach Parish Council, Coun Silva said she and parish clerk David Boyce had carried out their own investigations and sent her own personal report.

It states that the council had “not reviewed the data protection policy for a long time,” that the council needs to log the breach and “review the issue and no more.”

It concludes “the amount of people it would have impacted on would have been very low.”

It states: “What is recorded is a person or people from about 20ft in the air on a pole which is difficult to distinguish individual features, so it is indirect data.

“This data has very low risk to people as it only identifies when someone was in the park.

“The system could record six to eight days at most and recorded over themselves all the time. The recordings would have been during lockdown so the amount of people in the park would have been very low as the play areas and exercise equipment was locked down until July 17. The camera was stolen June 5 when many members of the public were staying at home.”

An ICO spokesman said: “Holbeach Parish Council have reported an incident to us and we will assess the information provided.”

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