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CCTV that is Closed Circuit TVs has become a necessity in many establishments, from commercial and corporate premises to offices and streets, even private residences! More and more surveillance need is arising everywhere. It is evident now that installing CCTV is an excellent and effective security measure. CCTV operator is a crucial individual when it comes to anything related to CCTV. Staying perceptive and focus for long periods are essential qualities required because the purpose of CCTV surveillance is to notice and prevent crimes before they happen as much as possible.

This article mainly depicts whether CCTV operators need a license to perform their duties as CCTV operators or not. To get to this information, let’s first understand the job description of a CCTV operator.


  • CCTV Operators usually work in head office where footage streaming comes from offices, shops, or public spaces.
  • CCTV Operators are mainly responsible for operating and maintaining surveillance equipment,
  • Watching both live and recorded video surveillance footage,
  • To keep people and property safe by diligently monitoring public areas, tracing individuals, and identifying risk.
  • CCTV operator is supposed to report any incidents or suspicious behavior and contacting the authorities when necessary.
  • CCTV operator is charged with central control over centre equipment, watching multiple monitors at once, noting any unusual occurrences and interacting with law enforcement officers whenever necessary.
  • CCTV Operators will report to a higher-level staff member, such as a CCTV Supervisor, CCTV Manager or whoever is a responsible higher authority in the institution.



CCTV Operators should have a detailed understanding of the equipment that they’re working. They are also needed to delete or archive old footage as needed, organizing old footage in an orderly fashion, and switching out videotapes, compact discs, memory cards, hard drives or servers.


CCTV Operators is required to be able to maintain and repair the equipment.


CCTV operators must have an acute focus to monitor multiple activities at once as they take note of any unusual activities that they see.

These activities are the difference between a CCTV Technician and a CCTV Operator. While the Technician may be asked to come in for a few hours, complete any necessary repairs and then leave, CCTV Operators must watch the live video surveillance footage.


CCTV Operators don’t just sit and keep looking at a bunch of screens all day. Instead, they must be persistently focused and observant of the details so that whenever they witness something unusual, suspicious or questionable, they can take appropriate action on it.


If a CCTV Operator witnesses something illegal on one of their monitors, they are supposed to make a note of it and report it to responsible authorities. In some situations, CCTV Operators

can also save vital police time by immediately registering a criminal’s license plate number, clothing, tattoos or other identifying features.


Any footage clip may be required to review at any given time on any given day, thus storing footage is one of the most important tasks of a CCTV Operator. A storage policy can vary slightly from company to company. Still, in general, CCTV Operators will need to correctly catalogue all footage so that it is easily accessible later.

Now that we know about CCTV operator’s jobs to some extent, let’s go further in this document and tackle the main subject, that is, whether CCTV operators need a licence or not?

The answer is YES! CCTV operator does need an SIA licence to carry out their duties.

Furthermore, the following are the activities that require CCTV operators to have a licence to conduct them.

  • Use CCTV cameras to focus and trace the activities of a particular person either by controlling or directing cameras at an individual’s actions.
  • Diligently monitoring public activities: This applies when the observation frame is in public areas or on private property.
  • Use of CCTV equipment to look for a particular individual: Review recorded footage through CCTV equipment to identify individuals or investigate individuals’ actions. (for instance, trace a suspect fleeing from a potential crime site)
  • Replay the recorded CCTV footage to identify individuals or to investigate the activity of individuals.

At the same time, If your employer has not been given an exemption under Section 4(4) of the Private Security Industry Act 2001, it is illegal to carry out any licensable activity of a CCTV Operative without the necessary SIA Licence.

Furthermore, A CCTV licence is not needed where cameras are used and monitored for the following purposes :

  • Protection of buildings and/or vehicles for theft or damage to the actual premises or property and not for the specific monitoring of members of the general public.
  • Where cameras are used to identify intruders/trespassers onto a site and to monitor intruders/trespassers activities on that site; and/or

Anyone who is targeting the CCTV operator job will need an SIA license, as mentioned above.

Now, consider a scenario: A door supervisor performing his designated frontline duties and is required to supervise the camera. Will he need an additional license in that case?

In the above case, The SIA allows certain licence holders of one area to perform licensable activities in another. This service is called SIA Licence Integration.

Therefore, Scenarios in which a CCTV Licence is not necessary for door supervisor are as follows:

  • A scenario in which cameras are used to solely identify and monitor the activities of intruders/trespassers on the site.
  • Protection of buildings and/or vehicles in the case of theft or damage to the actual premises or property.

⁎ FACT: According to the SIA, Institutes undertaking CCTV surveillance also need to ensure a minimum of 85% of their CCTV Operators hold a valid licence at all times.⁎


  • The candidate’s age is required to be over 18 years.
  • To be qualified for an SIA CCTV Licence/Public Space Surveillance(PSS) Licence, you need to have completed the CCTV Training Course.
  • The candidate must have the right to work in the UK.
  • The candidate must have passed a criminal check.
  • The candidate must obtain the linked qualification: Level 2 Qualification in CCTV Operations (PSS).


Getting SIA Licence is not a complicated process as it may seem. In reality, it’s pretty straightforward! All you are required to do is follow the simple steps:

1) Pass the CCTV Operator Training Course

The CCTV Training course takes three days to complete and is assessed by two multiple choice exams and a practical assessment. The course contains the following three units :

  • Working in the Private Security Industry.
  • Working as a CCTV Operator.
  • Practical Use of CCTV Systems.

 2) Finalize the online licence application.

  • The licence application fee is £190.
  • The SIA will get back to the applicant within 25 working days.

[⁎ FACT: Note, If you are currently an SIA Licence Holder and are adding the CCTV Licence as an additional licence, you will be eligible for a 50% discount. ⁎ ]

3) Complete identity checks

The applicant will need to verify their identity to satisfy parts of their SIA application, namely photo ID. The convenient way to do this is at the Post Office. Applicants can also have someone with a British passport, who is not related to them, sign the back of their photo ID.

4) Apply and wait for the SIA to complete identity and criminal background checks

The SIA will verify the applicant’s identity and run a background check on their criminal record. If the applicant has lived abroad for six months or more, they may be required to provide some supporting evidence.

5) Receive your three-year licence in the post

Once all these steps are completed, the applicant will be finally licensed!

SIA CCTV Licence is valid for three years.


  • Renewing your CCTV Licence requires no additional training.
  • You can renew your licence for a fee of £190.
  • You can begin this process up to 4 months before the end of your current licence.
  • Your new licence will not begin until your current one expires. For more information, see the SIA Website on Licence Renewals.


  • If your employer is making do the tasks that fall within the remit of a licensed CCTV Operator, and you do not have the relevant SIA training, then make sure you take the necessary steps to obtain the licence yourself or through your employer.
  • Suppose your employer is aware that you have an insufficient licence. In that case, it is their concern to place you through the relevant training (and essentially, prevent you from undertaking such tasks until you have the mentioned license).
  • Do not let yourself fall into trouble by taking responsibility outside the limits of your SIA licence. You will be held liable as a result.
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