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Bedfordshire Police's use of China-owned CCTV a “serious security risk" and "morally reprehensible”

Bedfordshire Police’s use of China-owned CCTV a “serious security risk” and “morally reprehensible”

The same Chinese company whose technology Beijing is using for the oppression of a minority population also provides surveillance technology to Bedfordshire Police.

This company makes more CCTV cameras than any other company in the world but their use has caused controversy after it was alleged they are instrumental in human rights violations of the Uyghurs community in Xinjiang.

A generic picture of a CCTV camera on the side of a building

Last year, a serious vulnerability was also detected affecting all Hikvision cameras which showed they could be also used by attackers from a remote location.

And as a result, the US has banned their use.

The survey of police forces was carried out by the England and Wales CCTV commissioner.

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The findings revealed all forces using Hikvision cameras – including Bedfordshire Police – bought these cameras in line with force procurement policies and Government advice, and some stated the cameras were stand-alone and not part of the network.

And although Bedfordshire Police aren’t using live facial recognition (LFR) right now, they confirmed they are intending to use LFR in the future.

In the Channel 4 News report, the England and Wales CCTV commissioner called the use of Hikvision cameras by our police forces “morally reprehensible” and a “serious security risk”.

When Bedford Today approached Bedfordshire Police for comment, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for CCTV responded.

Assistant chief constable Jenny Gilmer said: “The use of biometrics and surveillance technology by policing plays a crucial role in keeping people safe and catching dangerous criminals.

“Public protection is the first job of the police, and it is vital that we continue to ensure the right safeguards are in place to allow us to use new technologies effectively while maintaining the trust of the public by protecting people’s privacy and human rights.

“Police forces in England and Wales are subject to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 which are based on the principles of transparency, non-discrimination, equal treatment, and proportionality.

“Any potential suppliers must be found to abide by these principles before any contract is awarded. Legislation, therefore, dictates that it is not possible to have a policy that is less or more favourable to offshore or domestic bidders when competing for work within the public sector.

“At this stage there is no government guidance to UK Policing around specific suppliers. The award of public contracts must be based on value for money and forces will carry out due diligence to establish if any company should be excluded from their tendering process.

“There is a requirement in procurement process to ask bidders about the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and annual reporting requirements contained within the act. Forces also assess any upheld complaints by the Equality and Human Rights Commission or any other comparable bodies outside the UK.

“Model contractual terms and conditions are widely used across policing, and these include specific provision for equality, diversity and human rights. These are imposed on contracted suppliers and would be used to enforce any breach of contract.”

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