Should CCTV on the railways be kept for longer?

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Horizon22

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I was reading through this thread and it got me thinking about how long CCTV is kept on the railway (and most other locations for that matter). To my knowledge the default for most stations is 30-31 days, although on-train CCTV is often shorter. However, requests from the BTP or other local police forces might come in later than this point, or customers may seek damages for injury weeks after the event. Or - as in the case in the thread linked - TOCs may want to prove fraud. After a month it is likely to no longer be available and claims or crimes may rest on this crucial evidence. Interestingly the 30 days as a "de-facto" length seems to have arisen as an ad-hoc rule and has no basis in law.

In case where there is some public interest and may benefit the safety and security of passengers, is there any worth in standards perhaps changing? And how long should it be? 2 months? 6 months? This would then have to be balanced against data privacy and protection.
 
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zwk500

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CCTV is very unlikely to be the crux of a fraud case - financial records (ticket sale, credit card/smart card tracking) will be far more convincing. In personal injury cases the incident itself will be reviewed very quickly afterwards by the railway, and if there's concerns over a potential claim the CCTV can be put aside. 30 days would be quite a long time to have no indication that a claim might be forthcoming (not impossible). The TOC/NRs own lawyers will advise on that, they won't wait for a claim to be submitted before going and fishing out the footage.

If the CCTV is potentially required to prove guilt or responsibility (for any party - if the railway's at fault it should be held to account as well) then it should be held for as long as is necessary to resolve the issues/claims/cases. If that means 2 years, so be it. As long as the need is reasonable and the CCTV forms a substantive part of the case (i.e. there's at least something in the film that can't be demonstrated through other means). I think 30 days is a reasonable length of time to assess whether or not the CCTV requires preserving, to hold on to everything for 6 months seems like overkill, and I doubt anything would come up in month 2 that wasn't flagged in month 1, personally.
 

Gloster

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I wonder if our good friend GDPR plays a part in this "rule"?
I am no expert, but is there anywhere in the GDPR a limit as to how long CCTV and other recordings or data may be retained? Logically (although I know we are dealing with the law here and it is not always logical), if it is legal for them to be retained for a few days it is legal for them to be retained for much longer, even a number of years. Presumably, if they are being retained for a specific purpose, such as investigating ticket fraud, it might not be legal for them to be retained once the deadline for this has passed
 

scrapy

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Whilst no legal maximum under GDPR, the CCTV operator has to have a clear and transparent policy stating why they are recording and how long the footage can be kept for. The police suggest a maximum of 31 days. If kept for longer the policy would have to explicitly state why this is necessary. It is a GDPR requirement that footage that is no longer necessary be deleted.

In terms of the railway, they may be able to justify a longer period in the case of a specific known fraud case, but wouldn't be able to justify keeping all footage indefinitely on the off chance an offence has occured and the footage may be needed in the future.
 

Hadders

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No, CCTV should absolutely not be kept any longer than at present. There are all sorts of civil liberty issues in doing so. I don't have anything to hide but I don't particularly want anyone to be able to piece together where I was at any time potentially years after the event.

Companies deploying CCTV have to have a policy stating what it is deployed for. For a train company I'd expect it to be for the prevention and detection of crime, staff and customer safety etc. CCTV images must be destroyed after the period of time stated in the policy (this is usually 31 days because back in the days of using video tapes you'd have 31 tapes numbered 1 to 31). You can keep CCTV for longer but this must be part of a specific investigation, what you cannot do is store footage for longer 'just in case'.

EDIT - @scrapy beat me to it and put it more succinctly than me.
 

XAM2175

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I am no expert, but is there anywhere in the GDPR a limit as to how long CCTV and other recordings or data may be retained?
There is, but it's not explicit. CCTV recordings that allow for the identification of individuals are considered to be personal information by the GDPR and as such an organisation must have a valid reason and purpose for collecting the information and must not retain the information for longer than is necessary to fulfil that purpose. The rule of thumb is "as long as necessary, as short as possible."
 

PupCuff

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There's not a great deal of benefit to long term retention of CCTV in 99% of cases. The vast majority of the time it'll just show business as usual, and the one time it shows Mrs Example buying a coffee from the kiosk and falling down the stairs the relevant section will just be extracted and kept for as long as is specified in company policies to support the safety investigation, or for liability decisions if Mrs Example chooses to make a claim against the railway.

Even if the systems were upgraded with extra storage to hold all the additional data there quite often isn't the staffing resource within a train operator for someone to sit there and fish through hours, days, weeks, months of footage. If Mrs Example comes to the train company with her claim a year after the accident's happened, and she didn't report it to the station staff or conductor on the day, or to the Customer Experience Centre after her journey, and can't substantiate her allegation with any evidence of her own, regrettably it's unlikely that she'll get very far with her claim.
 

rustbucket

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There is, but it's not explicit. CCTV recordings that allow for the identification of individuals are considered to be personal information by the GDPR and as such an organisation must have a valid reason and purpose for collecting the information and must not retain the information for longer than is necessary to fulfil that purpose. The rule of thumb is "as long as necessary, as short as possible."

As someone who is responsible for the CCTV system at their place of work I can concur with the above

Accident / Incident retrieval, generally I've never had to go back more than 2/3 days to retrieve, but have had to archive for many months thereafter

Fraud (or suspected) is more of a challenge, but with a fraud that occurs on a weekly basis 30 days of footage is more than enough to establish a pattern and regularity, and in our case was more than enough to secure a watertight dismissal against the individual concerned
 

DelW

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There's not a great deal of benefit to long term retention of CCTV in 99% of cases. The vast majority of the time it'll just show business as usual, and the one time it shows Mrs Example buying a coffee from the kiosk and falling down the stairs the relevant section will just be extracted and kept for as long as is specified in company policies to support the safety investigation, or for liability decisions if Mrs Example chooses to make a claim against the railway.

Even if the systems were upgraded with extra storage to hold all the additional data there quite often isn't the staffing resource within a train operator for someone to sit there and fish through hours, days, weeks, months of footage. If Mrs Example comes to the train company with her claim a year after the accident's happened, and she didn't report it to the station staff or conductor on the day, or to the Customer Experience Centre after her journey, and can't substantiate her allegation with any evidence of her own, regrettably it's unlikely that she'll get very far with her claim.
I'd imagine that this is a field in which AI systems may be developed, though probably not by the railway industry initially. Most behaviour seen on CCTV would follow patterns that repeat daily, but incidents would vary that pattern. In this case there might be a faster than usual movement down the stairs (Mrs Example falling down them) followed by a few minutes with no movement (as people check her for injuries and help her up). The AI wouldn't need to be 100% accurate if it simply flagged up an unusual activity pattern for a human operator to review and assess for possible retention.

Whether or not that would be entirely a good thing is another matter.
 

hacman

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GDPR isn't as much of an issue for this as it might first appear - GDPR doesn't automatically put a limit on the length of time for which data can be retained, but instead requires companies to only retain it for as long as it is needed to actually do something. Indeed you can actually fall foul of GDPR for not retaining data for long enough in some cases.

The main issue is that storing CCTV footage is expensive. Whilst magnetic data storage is cheap on the surface of it, there is more to this than just buying a load of DVR hard drives - especially with modern systems.

You have the cost of the hardware the storage sits in (DVRs, SANs, etc), the infrastructure that supports it, people to maintain it, the power to run it, etc... It all adds up VERY quickly for something like the railway where even a small station could have quite a few cameras.

It all comes down to cost, and CCTV has only limited efficacy in deterring and solving crimes, or preventing legal action for liability. Strangely, we're one of the most surveilled nations in the western world, yet there are other nations with better crime rates, etc!
 

DB

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GDPR isn't as much of an issue for this as it might first appear - GDPR doesn't automatically put a limit on the length of time for which data can be retained, but instead requires companies to only retain it for as long as it is needed to actually do something. Indeed you can actually fall foul of GDPR for not retaining data for long enough in some cases.

To an extent, but the main point is that the retention periods (be it CCTV or any other type of personal data) have to be justified with a clear and logical reason (not "just in case").

With something like CCTV, the question would arise as to how often a situation would be materially changed (in terms of being able to prove / disprove something, etc) if the footage was kept for, say, three months instead of one. If the number of instances is very small, as it's likely to be, then retention of the footage is not likely to be considered proportionate.
 

185

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For crime, large scale fraud, missing persons angle - perhaps it should be 3 months as larger data storage is a much easier thing nowadays.

For ordinary revenue protection, staff discipline matters - it simply is not there for that, and I have seen one repeat offender company who did use it for that, part with cash (one was did the guard have the company or a union tie on?).

From a staff perspective I am a big fan of CCTV - not only is it a deterrent for assaults, disorder and criminality on board - it has also been used at least twice to disprove and contradict employers (exaggerated, contradictory) claims, both in internal investigations and in public at tribunal... whilst the CCTV shouldn't have been downloaded in the first place, it backfired - the camera simply doesn't lie.
 

mark-h

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The police suggest a maximum of 31 days.
Strangely the examples provided by the Information Commissioner's Office give longer retention times (sections 5 and 6).
James will know fairly quickly if an incident happens, either as a result of his staff, his customers or the police telling him, and he can then review the footage. But, if nothing happens, he won’t need to keep that footage for very long. As a result, James decides to introduce a six-week retention policy for the CCTV footage.
Mike only needs the footage if an incident occurs, so he keeps the footage for three months before securely deleting it.
 

Stigy

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CCTV is available for request for up to 30ish Days on stations or 7 ish days on trains, however, CCTV can be kept for as long as is necessary if requested within this time (if an authorised person asks for it to be put aside for example). For cases of fraud, CCTV is arguably not very useful anyway. Other cases, CCTV can usually be seized well within the time constraints.

The issue with keeping CCTV for much longer, I’d imagine, comes down to storage space on hard drives.
 

rf_ioliver

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I wonder if our good friend GDPR plays a part in this "rule"?
<sigh>

Only as the latest update to already existing data protection laws.

Data can only be captured if there is a necessity and this necessity must be explained in a privacy policy where it is set out what data is being captures, for what reasons and additional aspects such as retention. What the GDPR does not allow is data to be captured for "just in case" reasons and that data should not be kept (in certain forms) for longer than is necessary to achieve the stated purposes.

The GDPR is mainly about risk management of data and how to reduce this risk both to the collector and data subject.

Ian
 

mark-h

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GDPR also requires the owner of the CCTV system to provide people with copies of CCTV footage containing them free of charge. "Reasonable fees" are allowed for unfounded or excessive requests but this will still take up a lot of staff time to deal with. No longer holding the data is a valid reason for refusing a Subject Access Request and keeps the situation simple.
 

Gostav

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we're one of the most surveilled nations in the western world, yet there are other nations with better crime rates, etc!
This is another deeper question. CCTV and other security systems are like planks used to plug the holes in the hull, and the hull is Economy, everything is built on the economy and if the economy going bad, crime rates must increase. If the hull is full of holes under the water, even you have many piece wood (i.e armed police, heavy police group such as America), the overall environment will difficult to improve or cover up the problem briefly only. As an independent nation like Britain, industry should be the most important part of the economy, and everything else that looks shiny should not shake the status.
 

Monty

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Used to be 2 weeks on my TOC, not sure of that has changed however. I suspect the logistical issues of storage come into play long before GDPR becomes a concern, the requirements for storing many terabytes of video can be immense, especially on trains were many simply overwrite existing footage as the hard drive runs out of space.
 

yorkie

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For the CCTV to be useful in the cases referred to in the original post, they would have to go back many months, approaching a full calendar year, which is not desirable, proportionate or realistic, in my opinion.
 

tiptoptaff

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In a previous role at a previous TOC, I worked on our CCTV desk.

The on-station footage was kept for 28days due to storage capacity, and 7days for on-train footage, again due to storage. Hard drives on board being much much smaller than available for the station CCTV which was all linked and live monitored via wifi. On-train was stand alone.

Should any footage, whether on-train or on-station be requested within those timeframes, we would download it, and burn it to a disc to be given to whoever requested it. We made it clear, however, that on-train footage was only guaranteed to be available for 5 days. Why is explained in my story below.

We would only accept requests from BTP, Network Rail and managers directly. Naturally, if a member of the public wished to obtain some footage, they had to contact customer relations/legal dept/station managers directly themselves in the first instance, who'd then raise a request with us.

We had a few complaints when a member of the public claimed an incident happened with a staff member on the train (which I cannot say did or didn't happen, but the nature of the incident and seemed unlikely, and none of the other passengers were willing to be a witness for her) so she demanded the CCTV so she could "show it to the press" - she requested on day 6, and we told the requesting manager that we couldn't assure them that the footage could be recovered. This is because although the footage on-board is saved for 7days, after day 5, you're at the mercy of the unit's cycle. No unit spends more than two days away from a depot where download facilities are available. So if it's requested on day 5, said unit will land at a depot on day 5 or day 6. Footage definitely available. On day 6, that's now lands on day 6 or day 7. There are, however a handful of diagrams where the day 6 arrival is post peak, is fuelled and then goes again and lands back at a depot on day 8. If the request is made by about 10am on day 6 then the footage can be recovered on these units. If not, chances are it won't be.

This is exactly what happened. The unit in question was on a day 6 post-peak fpx diagram and then scuttled off not to be seen again for two days. By which time, naturally, the footage had wiped itself. Hysterical passenger believed this was deliberately to stop her taking her "evidence" to the press and managed to find our number and call us directly, along with several of her friends and family, to give us abuse about the matter. With BTP involved anyway - as she had now contacted them for some reason, it was easy enough for them to deal with.

So, my point is, being kept for a certain length of timed doesn't always mean available for that length of time. Now, my question is, should it?
 

Horizon22

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In a previous role at a previous TOC, I worked on our CCTV desk.

The on-station footage was kept for 28days due to storage capacity, and 7days for on-train footage, again due to storage. Hard drives on board being much much smaller than available for the station CCTV which was all linked and live monitored via wifi. On-train was stand alone.

Should any footage, whether on-train or on-station be requested within those timeframes, we would download it, and burn it to a disc to be given to whoever requested it. We made it clear, however, that on-train footage was only guaranteed to be available for 5 days. Why is explained in my story below.

We would only accept requests from BTP, Network Rail and managers directly. Naturally, if a member of the public wished to obtain some footage, they had to contact customer relations/legal dept/station managers directly themselves in the first instance, who'd then raise a request with us.

We had a few complaints when a member of the public claimed an incident happened with a staff member on the train (which I cannot say did or didn't happen, but the nature of the incident and seemed unlikely, and none of the other passengers were willing to be a witness for her) so she demanded the CCTV so she could "show it to the press" - she requested on day 6, and we told the requesting manager that we couldn't assure them that the footage could be recovered. This is because although the footage on-board is saved for 7days, after day 5, you're at the mercy of the unit's cycle. No unit spends more than two days away from a depot where download facilities are available. So if it's requested on day 5, said unit will land at a depot on day 5 or day 6. Footage definitely available. On day 6, that's now lands on day 6 or day 7. There are, however a handful of diagrams where the day 6 arrival is post peak, is fuelled and then goes again and lands back at a depot on day 8. If the request is made by about 10am on day 6 then the footage can be recovered on these units. If not, chances are it won't be.

This is exactly what happened. The unit in question was on a day 6 post-peak fpx diagram and then scuttled off not to be seen again for two days. By which time, naturally, the footage had wiped itself. Hysterical passenger believed this was deliberately to stop her taking her "evidence" to the press and managed to find our number and call us directly, along with several of her friends and family, to give us abuse about the matter. With BTP involved anyway - as she had now contacted them for some reason, it was easy enough for them to deal with.

So, my point is, being kept for a certain length of timed doesn't always mean available for that length of time. Now, my question is, should it?

I appreciate that on-train storage is likely to be harder and smaller and this depends on the time of stock but hard drives are now quite cheap and small yet can hold a considerable amount of data. 7 days definitely sounds too small to me. That being said I'm not sure how many GB 24 hours worth of footage would be.
 

yorkie

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I appreciate that on-train storage is likely to be harder and smaller and this depends on the time of stock but hard drives are now quite cheap and small yet can hold a considerable amount of data. 7 days definitely sounds too small to me. That being said I'm not sure how many GB 24 hours worth of footage would be.
Depends on the quality and level of compression, not to mention how many cameras you have!
 

tiptoptaff

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I appreciate that on-train storage is likely to be harder and smaller and this depends on the time of stock but hard drives are now quite cheap and small yet can hold a considerable amount of data. 7 days definitely sounds too small to me. That being said I'm not sure how many GB 24 hours worth of footage would be.

Depends on the quality and level of compression, not to mention how many cameras you have!
Well, this was 5years ago but I don't think it's changed. The stock is older 150s and 158s, which had less cameras then the 175s, which also had higher quality cameras.

Generally, each unit would have in each vechicle: front facing cab camera and two saloon cameras. The 175s were a bit different as they were newer and also had centre vehicles.

I couldn't comment on the size but downloading a few hours of footage off a unit took considerably longer and needed more disks than station footage. I'm not techy enough to tell you why that is though. Enough to know that this means the on-train footage tended to be larger files
 
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