On Monday our acting director, Emma Carr, took part in a workshop organised by the Care Quality Commission on the topic of covert surveillance in care homes. The session was organised by Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the CQC, and she has shared her thoughts on the session which you can read here.
The workshop was part of a much wider consultation process that is currently taking place. If you would like to share your views, you can find more inforamtion on how to do so here.
There have undoubtedly been many shocking incidents in recent times of vile and inhuman abuse being inflicted on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The abuse was able to take place due to underhand and deceitful tactics by the perpetrators, which is exactly why we at Big Brother Watch do not believe that installing CCTV on wards and in care homes is the answer. We also believe that to use covert surveillance where there is no reasonable cause for suspicion would be both an attack on residents’ privacy and dignity. It is, of course, right to investigate specific complaints, but this should not entail routine, undisclosed surveillance of the elderly and vulnerable.
CCTV indiscriminately treats everyone as a suspect, and undermines a culture of co-operation and openness. Such surveillance risks making people act dispassionately at the very time when we should be promoting more compassion. CCTV does not deal with the underlying problems and, at best, displaces abusive behaviour to somewhere out of camera range, or leads to deliberate sabotage of equipment to destroy evidence. It is all too often described as a silver bullet to problems, without any empirical evidence to support the claims, and is used as a quick fix while the fundamental issues go unresolved.
It is also unclear as to whether the CQC actually has the authorisation under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to use covert, intrusive surveillance by installing hidden cameras. It will be interesting to see whether the CQC will be seeking this authorisation.
We believe that it is absolutely correct that any measures should be both necessary and proportionate, a balance that is essential to maintain in such a sensitive environment and where emotions are likely to run high if wrongdoing is alleged.