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H06 Video Evidence - Custody 

1. Security protective marking

1.1. Not protectively marked.

2. Summary of changes

2.1. The following changes have been made to this policy on 4 September 2012:


  • Links to Authorised Professional Practice guidance added at paragraph 15.  

2.2. This policy is due for review in April 2014.     

3. Application


3.1. This policy applies to custody staff and nominated additional staff.


4. Purpose

4.1.  This policy covers the operation and procedures for the digital CCTV systems located within the Custody Suites. It does not cover the use of DVD disc recorders for the Visual Recording of Suspect Interviews in Custody or those in Vulnerable Victim Suites to which other policies will apply.


4.2. The purpose of the CCTV system in Custody is to:-

  • Enable early intervention in self-harm attempts;
  • Allow for monitoring of vulnerable detainees;
  • Ensure the safety of staff by viewing the detainee without entering the cell;
  • Provide an opportunity to view the behaviour of an individual and enable a more accurate risk assessment;
  • Permit custody staff to perform other duties while maintaining general and intermittent observation;
  • Provide an additional management tool, for example, checking that visits have been carried out as stated on the custody record or checking the standard of rousing visits.


5. Introduction

5.1.  The CCTV system must not be viewed as a matter of course but only where there is the suggestion of a complaint / incident or to facilitate constant supervision.. This applies to both “live” and “recorded” mode. Any abuse of the system may be subject to disciplinary proceedings. It is therefore essential that all viewings/downloads are justified and documented.


5.2.  All recordings will be accurately time and date stamped. The time/date source will either be locked to the force computer network or GPS referenced.


5.3. Notices must be displayed showing cameras and audio recorders are in use in accordance with Code C Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the Data Protection Act 1998. Any request to have video cameras switched off shall be refused.


5.4. The CCTV system must not be used as a means of carrying out a telephone review.


5.5. Access to the system operational settings will be by System Administrator password only. This will be restricted to designate staff. All access to the systems will be automatically logged by an audit trail generated by each individual recorder.


5.6. Any workstation designated to access the recorders will require bespoke software and a DVD rewriter drive to be installed. Authorisation for the DVD drive must be obtained from ISD.

5.7.  Current design and ACPO recommendations allow for the use of four types of digital systems:

  • “Time lapse” (variable picture rate) systems, that record picture only in all areas other than at the charge desk.
  • Real time systems that will record pictures and sound of all activity at the charge desk.
  • On demand DVD recording within the intoximeter room or drug testing areas.
  • View only systems in cells or solicitor interview rooms, that will not record either picture or sound.


6. Time lapse variable picture rate system

6.1.  All cameras in “common” areas such as corridors, holding areas etc will connect to a “time-lapse” system that will be recorded on to a hard drive server. This machine will initially be set for a default of one picture per second per camera and triggered to three pictures per second on detecting movement. This will be subject to change from time to time subject to engineering evaluation.


6.2.  The HDD server will be capable of storing a minimum of 31 days recordings before overwriting begins. Any method of manually deleting recordings will be prohibited.

7. Real time charge desk system 


7.1.  A single camera, suitably mounted, will clearly show the actions of any suspect and arresting officer whilst at the Custody Desk. This “real-time” system will be recorded to a hard drive server. This machine will be set for a default of 25 pictures per second for the single camera.


7.2.  In conjunction with the camera in 7.1, two microphones, suitably located, will record the dialogue between all parties and must be clearly reproduced. These microphones will usually be located directly above the custody desk. One stereo (twin) audio track will be synchronously recorded with the camera pictures.

7.3.  Each custody desk station will have its own system.


7.4.  It is recommended that no audio system is employed to cover the remainder of the custody suite, as this, on occasions, can cause the audio recordings to become heavily contaminated.


7.5.  The server will be capable of storing a minimum of 31 days recordings before overwriting begins. Any method of manually deleting recordings will be prohibited.

8. Real time intoximeter system

8.1.  The Real Time Intoximeter System comprises one real time DVD recorder that is activated on demand by the Intoximeter operator. It will record all activity during the intoximeter procedure.


8.2.  The recorder must comply with the CJS2004 standard “Visual recording of evidence within the Criminal Justice System (CJS2004) – Equipment specification” published by the CJS and the BSI.


8.3.  A DVD+R recordable disc shall be loaded into the machine.


8.4.  At the end of the procedure and after disc finalisation, the recording must be checked before the disc is removed, uniquely labelled and sealed using forms 1861, 1865 and 1866. It will become the exhibit of the operator. Policy N79 will then apply.


8.5.  Divisional Business Co-ordinators shall ensure adequate supplies of DVD+R recordable disc are available in custody areas for the intoximeter system.


8.6.  Paragraph 8 will apply to any other DVD recording system (other that for suspect interviews) such as drug test areas etc.

9. View only system 

9.1.  The view only system will not be subject to any recording and will be picture only. These systems allow Custody Staff to provide visual monitoring and protection to areas such as cell interiors and solicitor interview rooms. Current policy may change in the future and this must be borne in mind when designing and installing such systems.

10. Extraction and retention of recordings 


10.1.  Access to the recordings must be controlled. The recordings on the HDD servers will only be accessed via a designated network workstation. The workstation terminal must be in a secure and confidential location. One terminal should be located in the Custody Inspector's Office or at a location nominated by the Custody Inspector. Each user will be logged on by username (usually force number) and password. This terminal will only have access to the local Custody Suite(s) unless otherwise authorised (see 10.3).


10.2.  The authorised terminal must be a fixed terminal. Under no circumstances will access be approved via a laptop device.


10.3.  Where more than one Custody Suite is located within a Division the designated terminal in the respective Inspectors office will have access to the other suites within the Division.


10.4. In order to maintain system integrity and data security only identified staff will be granted access to their local system.


10.5.   Authorised staff will only access and download images from the custody system on receipt of a written request from their respective Custody Manager. This request must be retained for any subsequent audit.


10.6.  All digital recordings will be automatically overwritten sequentially at the end of the designated period i.e. if the storage period is 31 days, day one will be overwritten on day 32 etc. It is imperative to download and copy any required material to DVD as soon as possible as once overwritten the footage is permanently lost.


10.7.  Using the dedicated CCTV software, the recordings on digital recorder can be searched by time and date, selected and then copied to the ARCHIVE folder on the local C: or D: drive on the designated network workstation in the original CCTV file format.


10.8.  Using the dedicated CCTV software, once confirmed, the selected recording can be copied to a DVD+R in either the native file format or DVD video format or both.

10.9.  The server will automatically provide a full audit trail of access and transactions by users.


10.10.  Each DVD disc will be uniquely identified. All activity by operators including the time and date will be recorded. It will become the exhibit of the operator. Policy N79 will then apply.


10.11.  The archive folder on the local C: or D: drive on the designated network workstation is a temporary store for the downloaded files and must be regularly erased.


10.12.  Area Business Managers shall ensure that adequate supplies of DVD+R discs are available.

11. Retention of DVD discs recorded by custody CCTV

11.1.  DVD disc recordings made by real time systems installed in custody areas, not required for evidential purposes or as part of a Professional Standards Department investigation, will be retained in the custody area for one calendar month. These discs will be stored in a secure facility.


11.2.  Divisional Commanders will ensure that there is a secure facility on Division where DVD discs may be stored.


11.3.  Officers will comply with the provisions of the Criminal Procedures and Investigations Act 1996 regarding the retention of video recordings for evidential purposes (see policy N79).


11.4.  All downloads from the custody system must be treated as evidential. Therefore, the seizing officer, shall ensure the disc is sealed using a property seal and place DVD recordings retained for evidential purposes or for a Professional Standards Department investigation, in special property. The property seal number shall be recorded on the relevant entry in the special property register (see policy B07).


11.5.  Video evidence is also vitally important in the defence of civil actions made against the Chief Constable. In circumstances where:

  • A letter before action threatening civil proceedings has been received on Division (which should be transferred to the Legal Services Department)


  • Any officer reasonably believing from what he/she has seen/heard/been told that a potential civil proceeding might result from an incident on station within the range of a video camera, the recordings should be removed and retained as in section 10 above and retained for six years, reviewable annually.

11.6.  The special property register must include under special instructions that the disc recording must not be disposed of without reference to either the officer seizing the disc, the officer in the case or Professional Standards Department.

12. Viewing of video recordings

12.1.  The viewing of recordings from the hard drives can only be done on the designated terminals. Any viewing must be documented. Further advice is given in policy N79. Any subsequent viewing from the DVD discs must be documented.

13. Return and disposal of video discs 

13.1.  The procedure for the return and disposal of any DVD discs is contained in policy N79.


14. Access control 

14.1. In order to maintain system and data security and to minimise the risks of breaching Human Rights Legislation access to the system will be restricted.  As gatekeepers of the CCTV systems all applications must be submitted via the Strategic Criminal Justice Department who will subsequently arrange the necessary access level and location in conjunction with ISD.


14.2. Two levels of access will be available:

  • View - ‘View’ will be made available to Custody Managers, Custody Sergeants, Senior Detention Officers and Detention Officers.
  • Download/Record - ‘Download/Record’ will be limited to Custody Managers and further staff as identified by the respective Custody Managers. Additional necessary support roles will be provided access proportionate to their needs.

15. Authorised Professional Practice

15.1. Further information on the use of CCTV in Custody can be found on the Authorised Professional Practice guidance by clicking on the subheadings 'Buildings and Facilities' and then 'CCTV'.


16. Retention and disposal of records


16.1. Documents mentioned in the above policy will be retained for the period specified in the disposal schedule.

17.  Equality impact assessment


17.1. This policy has been assessed with regards to its relevance to race and diversity equality. As a result of this assessment the policy has been graded as having a low potential impact.


17.2. Attached is the latest equality impact assessment that forms part of the policy review process.

Policy reference: H06 Video Evidence - Custody
Policy owner: Chief Superintendent. Head of Central Investigation Command
Contact point: Policy Unit, 01622 653298
Date last reviewed: 07 April 2011
Document last saved: 05 September 2012