Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

  • Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems can be used to enhance the safety and security of your business.
  • CCTV footage can also provide valuable assistance to the police when investigating crimes and prosecuting offenders.
  • The use of CCTV systems includes the following:
    • The presence of CCTV cameras may serve as a deterrent to inappropriate or illegal activity. This is the preferred role of CCTV systems – to prevent or reduce the opportunity for crime to occur.
    • CCTV cameras can be used to provide real-time or recorded surveillance over large areas, i.e., the perimeter boundary of protected property, parking lots, retail stores, government buildings, etc. This use of CCTV is sometimes referred to as video patrol.
    • CCTV cameras can be integrated with other sensing systems (robbery or burglary alarms), and used to view areas not immediately accessible to personnel. This is often referred to as “event-driven cameras”.
    • CCTV cameras and monitoring equipment can provide an historical recall of events. Good quality preserved CCTV images can provide valuable information and evidence for police related to inappropriate or illegal activity.
    • CCTV cameras may have a better viewing vantage than personnel.
  • If good quality CCTV footage of an incident is available, this can assist police to clear up an investigation in a short time and successfully prosecute the offender.
  • Unfortunately, many CCTV systems are not installed properly, have not been maintained, provide poor quality video footage or are switched off/broken at the time of the incident. If evidence is gained from a CCTV system in such cases, it may be excluded by a court. A poorly installed, maintained, or functioning CCTV system is only marginally better than having no CCTV system at all.


  • CCTV is used to detect crime and enhance public safety. It is a recognised way to effectively provide surveillance for your business. CCTV systems can be tailored to meet the requirements of a variety of property types, such as retail shops, petrol stations and offices. CCTV can range from the simple to the complex. A CCTV system can, for instance, be used to identify individuals entering a shop or identify vehicles passing through a service station. Prior to installing a CCTV system, a business owner should determine the main objectives of the system so that this can inform the design of the system and purchase of appropriate equipment. Once the objectives of a business’ CCTV have been decided, there are a number of system components that can be installed.
  • The attributes of a good system that police can use for investigating crime are listed below:
    • Colour CCTV systems are the preferred system because they generally provide better evidence than black and white (sometimes referred to as monochrome). They permit a more realistic view of the image and make identification of persons and things easier because of the more natural image. However, they do need a greater amount of light than black and white cameras and are of lower resolution (picture quality). Colour CCTV is also more expensive than black and white cameras.
    • All systems should record vision from all cameras at all times while the system is turned on. Generally, it is recommended that a CCTV system operates on a 24-hour basis.
    • Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) are the preferred medium of choice for recording and storing images. DVRs have computer-style hard disk drives. The image files of DVRs are of superior quality, do not degrade over time, require less storage space, are easier to search and can be viewed on a computer via a network. New data is also automatically written over the oldest vision once the hard drive is full.
    • All recorded vision should be watermarked with the time, date and camera number/description that recorded it.
    • The digital recorder used should be capable of generating a copy of the recorded vision so that it can be given to police investigators along with any special software required to view it.
    • Consider installing a small uninterrupted power supply (UPS) to provide power to both DVR and cameras should mains power fail.
    • Signs warning that CCTV is in use increase the deterrent affect of CCTV cameras.
    • Dummy cameras are not recommended.


  • The DVR should be installed in a secure location where it will not be exposed to dust/water or extremes in temperature. Like a computer, a DVR generates heat so if placed in a locked cupboard adequate ventilation is necessary.
  • Access to the DVR should be strictly controlled by management. If the images are used in a court proceeding, management may be required to name the individuals who were able to access the equipment in order to assure the court that the data was not interfered with.
  • A monitor should be installed with the DVR to allow viewing of the recorded vision.
  • Cameras should be firmly fixed and should not be subject to vibrations, knocking or other movement that will affect the quality of the images captured.
  • Cameras should never look directly into the sun or strong lights since the intensity may burn a permanent spot on the sensitive surface and make permanent white scars in the presentation.
  • Cameras located outside a business should be positioned out of reach of passers-by to prevent unauthorised moving or theft. Consider fitting anti-tamper brackets to all externally mounted equipment.
  • Ensure there is sufficient light for the camera to view the scene at all times. This may mean installing additional lights or higher wattage globes in existing lights.
  • Be aware that at different times of the day the sun or car headlights may shine directly into a camera lens. Glare will significantly affect the video image. After installation, check the quality of the recordings at different times of the day and night to ensure good quality vision.
  • Professional advice is recommended when installing a new CCTV system or upgrading an existing system. Trained consultants can provide advice specifically for your business and the commercial environment in which it operates. Consulting a reputable CCTV company will ensure that your business obtains the best quality CCTV images for both crime prevention and criminal investigation purposes.


  • Camera placement is critical to the success of all CCTV systems.
  • Recorded vision should be ideally held on the recorder for 30 days before being overwritten.
  • Ensure the capture rate is set to provide clear images of the actions of people. Low capture rates have people appearing ‘jerky’ and may miss important evidence of a crime. Faster capture rates make the actions smoother, more natural and capture all movements. A minimum of six frames per second is recommended. Twenty-five frames per second is considered to be real time recording.
  • The higher the capture rate the more hard disk space will be required on the DVR. Therefore, a balance between best practice and best evidence is required. Nevertheless, do not sacrifice the quality of the image to increase the length of time the vision is retained. It is a much better investment to buy a larger hard drive.
  • Cameras should cover strategic areas that capture the action of people. At least one camera should be set to capture images of people, enabling them to be identified (both from their physical appearance and their facial qualities).
  • Camera placement can be determined by sketching out a floor plan. Consider the distance from the camera to the area under surveillance and the field of view the camera will record.
  • Ensure cameras are implemented at eye level behind counter areas. This enables a perfect image of an offender. Cameras on ceilings do not assist in identification.
  • Ensure that any overhead mounted cameras capture sufficient facial detail of people and avoid the tendency to place a camera up high that will only focus on the tops of their heads.
  • Cameras for vulnerable locations should be mounted strategically at areas of high cash turnover and also directly outside premises.
  • When setting up cameras in your business, remember to play back the recorded product to ensure the image quality is appropriate. If you can’t distinguish the detail of the person in the image then neither will police.
  • If a camera is set simply to cover a wide area it will usually not provide police with sufficient detail to identify the person. It is better to set up a number of cameras, each with a specific purpose (see the table and information on CCTV camera locations and purpose). This way, when police view the recorded vision, the individual views will provide sufficient evidence to show what took place.
  • Video motion detectors can be used in areas such as fire escape stairwells, health spas, and swimming pools that are used infrequently. When the CCTV system is activated and movement occurs at the target location, the DVR unit commences recording. However, do not use video motion detection on an external application without careful planning.


  • The purpose of CCTV cameras is to observe, detect, recognise and identify.


  • This is where a person or vehicle (target) occupies 5 percent of the monitor’s viewing height.
  • Cameras located to observe and enable the viewer to know someone was there. The time and date stamp shows what time they were there. The image size will be too small for identification but will place a person or vehicle at the scene when considered with other images i.e. recognise and identify.


  • A person or vehicle will occupy 10 percent of the monitor’s viewing height.
  • At this size, the target’s image will be adequate for detection using video motion detection, if installed on the system, but would be too small to identify the person for evidence purposes. If a system is monitored it will provide enough detail to indicate the person is doing something suspicious.


  • A person or vehicle will occupy 50 percent of the monitor’s viewing height.
  • At this field of view, the target’s image can be recognised if they are already known to staff . They would not be accurately identified if they are unknown. However, the person could be recognised as the same person in different camera shots.


  • At 120 percent of the monitor’s viewing height, images are of suitable quality to enable identification of individuals and provide distinguishing features of vehicle number plates.
  • Police will have the greatest chance of enlarging the images and capturing vital details.
Location Camera Objective
Entrance and exit doors to the business Identify Identify all people entering and leaving the business
Service counters Identify Identify and clearly record actions of customers and staff at the counter
High value merchandise Recognise Clearly record actions of customers and staff at the counter
Payment points (customer side) Recognise Clearly record actions of customers at the payment point
Payment points (business side) Recognise Clearly record actions of staff at the payment point
Vehicle gates / drive ways Recognise Clearly record entry and departure of all vehicles
Shop floors / display areas Detect Identify customers and staff and establish their movements through the shop
Car parks Observe Determine the data and time that people and vehicles were in the car park and location within
Fuel station forecourts Recognise Capture images of vehicles and people re-fuelling vehicles
Fuel station forecourts Identify Identify all vehicle number plates
Hazardous materials Recognise Clearly record actions of customers and staff at the counter

CCTV system maintenance and management

  • For CCTV vision to be useful to investigators and accepted in a court of law, its integrity needs to be ensured.
  • Evidence is required to show that the CCTV system has been maintained and the data appropriately managed according to the following guidelines.


  • All systems should be regularly maintained and tested.
  • One of the primary maintenance issues associated with CCTV systems is keeping the glass front of the housing clean. To this effect, some camera housing units actually come with their own blades and wiper fluid dispenser. Ensure that camera protective coverings are clean as a build-up of dust or dirt will degrade recorded images.
  • Dome enclosures for interior ceiling-mounted cameras need to be kept free of dust and other materials.
  • Each week a check should be made of the system’s time and date against a known accurate clock.
  • On a weekly basis management should review the vision recorded from each camera to ensure the images are still being captured with the desired view and that they are still in focus.
  • Visually check the mountings of all cameras weekly to ensure they are still securely fixed and have not been accidentally bumped or tampered with.
  • A written maintenance log should be kept for the CCTV system. The log should record what checks were conducted and the details of who conducted them. It should be signed by the person completing the checks at the time they were carried out.
  • Remember, all CCTV equipment has a finite life span but usually greater than 5 years. It is recommended that a maintenance contract be secured to cover CCTV installations. Such maintenance usually serves to extend the lifespan of the equipment. Plan to replace your system according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Data Management

  • Recorded vision will only be useful in evidence if its integrity can be assured.
  • Therefore, recorded vision must not be manipulated, changed or enhanced in any way.
  • The number of employees who have access to the CCTV equipment and the vision data should be limited to those essential for the system’s maintenance.
  • Provide training on the operation of the system to key staff who will be providing police with the recorded vision. Where possible, it is preferable the staff members selected for this role are likely to be on site or readily contactable in the event of an incident so that video footage can be quickly provided to police.
  • It is important to have the CCTV system documented and a user manual on hand that describes how the system operates. These can be kept with the maintenance log.
  • The person who provides the vision data to police will become a witness. They should have a good understanding of the CCTV system and be able to give evidence in court on the steps they took to make a copy of the data for the police.

Further Reading

  • Australian Standard 4806.1–2006: Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) — Management and Operation. This booklet provides a list of recommendations for CCTV systems regarding the management and procedures for recorded material, as well as privacy and disclosure issues, and system documentation.


  • Tasmania Police – Emergency – Triple Zero ( 000)
  • Tasmania Police – Non-Emergency – 131 444
  • Crime Stoppers – 1800 333 000