How Does Monitored CCTV Work?

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CCTV cameras are a common sight across public areas and private properties throughout the UK. According to the British Security Industry Authority (BSIA) there’s already around 1 camera in place for every 14 people in London alone.

Yet crimes related to theft, burglary and vehicles are on the rise, with the Office of National Statistics revealing that in the year to September 2017, burglary increased by 8% whilst vehicle offences, including theft of and from vehicles, rose by 18%.

What’s more, with finances stretched Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Mark Simmons, has indicated that ways of “balancing the books” are likely to include limiting the investigation of “low value” crimes, and those crimes where there is no CCTV to support investigations.

With the risks of crime increasing at the same time as chances for successful prosecution are reducing, individual home and business property owners are turning towards monitored CCTV as a way of increasing their own security and minimising personal or business risk.

And this is likely to prove a positive, proactive step against crime towards property and persons because, despite the negativity of rising crime statistics, the rise of CCTV as an effective deterrent is also being noted, with the Co-op’s 2017 Insurance survey revealing that CCTV was the security measure that 89% of ex-criminals said offered the biggest deterrent.

So what’s so useful about CCTV, and how does monitored CCTV work?

What CCTV systems are

Closed Circuit Television systems (CCTV) are video camera systems which can be installed inside and outside properties and premises, to provide an ‘eyes on’ view of identified areas.

CCTV works by generating digital images which are recorded as footage, for evidence and identification purposes.

Security which sees – and can be seen

In this way, CCTV works by securing and protecting a property, premises and land. As such, CCTV offers a powerful, preventative presence, which can:

  • Act as a deterrent to criminal activity, by being highly visible once installed, especially when used in conjunction with warning signage.
  • Gather recorded footage, to help identify criminals and be used as evidence – one of the reasons why police are able to investigate crimes more thoroughly when there’s CCTV footage available.
  • Also facilitate prompt action in the event of environmental and accidental damage.

Moving to monitored

The effectiveness and benefits of CCTV surveillance are significantly enhanced when combined with a package of security monitoring. Monitoring means that the digital images being viewed and recorded by the CCTV are also being viewed and reviewed by an off-site security service.

Features of remote monitoring include providing:

  • Prompt response in the event of the alarm being triggered.
  • Remote monitoring, ideal for rural homes and country estates, as well as out of the way places such as: isolated agricultural premises; outlying buildings and places where getting out to the area in response to traditional burglar or intruder alarms would take too long.
  • Remote auditory response, to directly address suspects or intruders over a speaker system, enhancing ‘eyes-on’ effectiveness with an additional ‘on-site’ presence.
  • Facility to just ‘check up’ on the site. For example, if there’s been an extreme weather event in the area, or local events such as rioting which could have left the property damaged and vulnerable.
  • Expert professionals at the monitoring station, who can manipulate and manoeuvre cameras with surprising dexterity, to track the movements of intruders and achieve results which help eliminate blind spots and create a ‘full picture’ of unfolding events.
  • Emergency services, plus others on the alert list, can be alerted from the monitoring station.

What needs to be in place for monitoring to work?

Monitored CCTV systems can be installed by professionals and generally rely on:

  • Secure internet connection.
  • Monitoring software, which works in conjunction with an alarm system.
  • A security package with a remote monitoring station, where trained professionals monitor the images to detect and deal with suspicious activities or environmental concerns.

The overall features of any system can be enhanced through the choice of cameras installed. For example, using cameras which include thermal imaging increases levels of protection and improves visibility of problems such as intruders and outbreak of fire through appliances or products overheating.

Monitored CCTV systems also work well in conjunction with other security measures such as sensor lighting and internal sensor alarm systems.

What kind of incidences can trigger the switch from monitoring to taking action?

Capturing thermal images on monitored CCTV, for example, makes it possible for an operator to identify if an appliance, such as a boiler, is overheating or if a fire has broken out.

How does the whole system work?

From surveillance trigger to monitoring operative action, monitored surveillance systems generally work as follows:

  • The camera captures an image.
  • Images are routed across to external monitoring station for checking.
  • When an incident is triggered, the monitoring software alerts a remote security professional and provides an instant view of the relevant CCTV images, for response and investigation.
  • The remote operatives can closely monitor the situation, including zooming cameras in and out, switching to alternative views and re-running captured footage so they can gather all of the relevant information about the incident, and then take appropriate action.
  • Monitoring personnel can also conduct regular monitoring checks, whether an alert has been issued or not.

What kind of security response can be achieved from monitored CCTV?

Once an alert or type of incident has been identified, the security operator can take immediate action, for example by:

  • Calling emergency services.
  • Alerting key holders and other nominated persons.
  • Triggering remote auditory warnings to intruders, via loudspeaker systems.
  • Resetting the alarm if a false alarm has been identified.

Looking at the benefits of monitored CCTV

The ultimate benefit of monitored CCTV is that it can be a real deterrent against property crime, including arson, vandalism, trespass, burglary and theft. But being a deterrent is only one of the benefits, as monitored CCTV also has the advantage of:

  • Offering the same level of ‘on site’ monitoring as manned guarding or having a person on premises, but at less cost and without putting any on site individuals at risk in the event of a problem.
  • Offering tracking and identification, including being able to switch the view if criminals are scared off by audio, track them back to their vehicles and may even capture vehicle number plate evidence.
  • Offering an online portal so that, as the property owner, it’s possible to check in and monitor the property remotely yourself, as well as view the activities of the monitoring station personnel in relation to the property.
  • Remote intervention and immediate response which can reduce instances of neighbour nuisance and police blacklisting which can sometimes happen with standard, unmonitored burglar alarm systems.
  • Presenting a cost-effective security system, both in comparison to alternatives such as manned guarding (more expensive) and traditional, unmonitored alarm systems (less effective).
  • Monitored CCTV is also additionally cost-effective when considered in relation to the potential losses which could be incurred if fire breaks out and intruders or other criminals break in – if not dealt with swiftly, costs from damage can quickly escalate, especially if trespassers and intruders remain unchallenged and decide to occupy the property.
  • Being continually being updated to offer improved features. Monitored camera systems and the software behind them are increasingly being developed to include ‘smart’ technology to enhance:
    • The autonomy of remote monitoring;
    • The precision in alerts and identification of problems;
    • Speed, effectiveness and accuracy of overall footage search and analysis.
  • An assured response. This can be particularly beneficial to owners of vacant properties or premises who might live some distance from the property itself.


There are plenty of choices of types of system and variations of monitoring packages, such as live, constant monitoring or out of hours only, where monitoring is switched on once the working day is finished or if the premises is going to be unattended for a period of time, such as during a period of vacancy or holiday.

The final choice to bear in mind is the reputation of installer and security provision. A reputable company such as SafeSite Security Solutions would be able to offer a free survey and advice, and will be happy to share information, advice and testimonials.

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