Surveillance operatives are expected to have their own imagery equipment. At a bare minimum we would expect an operative to have a suitable camcorder and a covert camera. A covert camera is a device which is designed and manufactured to purely gain both audio and video footage covertly. They are disguised as an everyday item to not gain any attention or to look out of place. Surveillance operatives utilise these to gain imagery of a subject or associates with public areas such as a public house, library or café.
Mobile phone video, when is it acceptable?
On occasions, some operatives may use their mobile phone camera to obtain images or video footage covertly. This may be due to the battery going flat on the covert camera due to heavy use during a deployment; or it could be that an operative has rushed out of their vehicle to keep control of the subject and left their covert camera in their vehicle. In these circumstances, I would suggest that it is more than acceptable. Ultimately, we’d rather gain imagery or video footage of a subject rather than a client have to take our word for it.
Mobile phone cameras have come on no end over the years and in some cases are better quality than that of some covert cameras. However, a mobile phone generally shouldn’t be used instead of a covert camera if the covert camera is in full working order, and you have it with you. For an operative to only have a mobile phone as a covert camera appears unprofessional and unwilling to invest in kit for the benefit of the tasks. If we conduct surveillance for a profession, then we are professionals, and we need to appear as such.
What are the drawbacks of using a mobile phone?
The main drawback with using a mobile telephone as a covert camera is that it isn’t covert. It’s a mobile phone and to hold it up to take imagery of a subject may cause a compromise or at minimum gain attention from third parties who aren’t part of the operation.
If a mobile phone is used by a surveillance operative to gain images or video footage then the following should be considered.
- Learn to gain mobile footage naturally so that you are aware of the angles of the mobile phone and what it will capture without having to look at it. Practise, practise, practise!
- Try and be natural when holding the mobile phone. If it is held how a normal person would hold it to gain imagery, then it’s not covert.
- Ideally the mobile phone will take the image landscape and not portrait. This is being picky, however camcorders and covert cameras all produce landscape images, so to place a portrait image into a report looks messy and draws the eye. I know, picky, however we are professionals.
Are you considering being Surveillance Trained?
Maybe after reading this you are considering becoming a surveillance operative, or you are currently operating as a surveillance operative and wish to be trained. Titan’s RQF Level 4 (Intermediate) in Covert Surveillance Operations will be delivered from our Derby training facility on the following dates.
- 26th Feb – 1st March 2024
- 13th -17th May 2024
- 16th – 20th September 2024
- 18th – 22nd November 2024
For further advice on Surveillance Training, who do I call?
For further advice and information in regard to surveillance training, then feel free to speak to one of our professional team at one of the offices nearest to you.
London Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations London Office 020 39046622
Birmingham Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations Birmingham Office 0121 7162442
Cambridge Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations Cambridge Office 01223 662022
Derby Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations Derby (Head Office) 01332 504256
Leeds Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations Leeds Office 0113 4574066
Leicester Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations Leicester Office 0116 2436520
Nottingham Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations Nottingham Office 0115 9646950
Manchester Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations Office 0161 3023008
Sheffield Surveillance Training – Call the Titan Investigations Sheffield Office 0114 3499400
Alternatively, you can contact us directly using our fully confidential contact form at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat directly using our Live Chat facility and one of our Surveillance Training team will get right back to you.