There is a small but increasing number of reports within the United Kingdom involving individuals who attend premises and outside spaces, with the aim of capturing staff and property on camera, the content from which is often uploaded to social media and video platforms. We refer to them as Auditors in this guidance as it's the term most associated with them online. Other terms include Social Media Auditors and Citizen Journalists.
Auditors take advantage of the understandable concerns from personnel when staff premises are photographed or filmed. Auditors often attempt to provoke staff and security in order to elicit heightened reactions, at times asserting that staff are overstepping legal boundaries. They are well versed in their own rights and frequently cite legislation when challenged.
It is not an offence to be an Auditor of to film personnel and property from a place the Auditor is allowed to be. This includes filming private property with a drone where a drone is allowed to fly.
Auditing activity is mostly harmless, and the amount of compromising information gathered by filming vehicles, personnel, equipment or the facility itself is generally minimal. Issues typically arise when staff and security engage in a hostile manner, by quoting legislation incorrectly, or by giving inaccurate statements such as "You are not allowed to film here".
While the Auditors themselves might not have hostile intent, the content they create and post online could be viewed by genuine hostile actors. As such, conveying an air of a professional security culture is helpful - such as highlighting the CCTV which alerted you to their presence - but without giving unnecessary insight into your security infrastructure or procedures.
When interacting with suspected Auditors, we recommend a CALM approach - Chat, Assess, Limit, Monitor.
- Chat in a friendly manner
- Assess for hostile intent
- Limit interactions beyond what's necessary
- Monitor risk of escalation
It is important that all personnel remain polite and professional if responding to a situation where someone is recording premises and/or staff. When engaging, remember that your first words will often dictate the tone of the interaction.
Auditors want their content to go viral.
Remember that the goal of auditing is often to generate controversial content. The best defence is to make their interactions with you forgettable.
Social Media Auditors want to generate controversial content to post online. Don't give it to them.
Guidance for Security Personnel
When faced with a suspected Auditor, security staff should continue to follow the See, Check and Notify (SCaN) framework on suspicious activity. We recommend taking a CALM approach - Chat, Assess, Limit, Monitor. See our full guidance document above for more details.
Guidance for General Staff
Not only does everyone have a role to play in security, but there have been incidents where suspecting members of staff have been approached when entering or exiting various parts of a property. Because Auditors can rely on confusion and intimidation, make staff aware - and prepared - is an important aspect of protecting against such tactics.
Versions of the guidance assets are available without NPSA branding and are made available for organisations to edit and apply their own branding and logos for their internal use. These are provided under the terms of the Open Government Licence Agreement and the following attribution statement must always be included in the guidance assets: “© crown copyright NPSA."
NPSA has produced a PowerPoint slide deck to assist organisation to train their personnel. The slides include speaker notes on relevant slides, and a playable copy of the animation on slide 2.
Rolodex / Business Cards
Handout cards are available to download which can be used in Security Control rooms, and given out to security staff to act as reminders in the event of suspected auditor activity.
See, Check and Notify (SCaN)
All suspicious activity should be investigated. Stay vigilant, and continue to follow the See, Check and Notify (SCaN) guidance. You can find out more about the wider See, Check and Notify guidance on the SCaN section.
- Social Media Auditors Guidance12-12-2023Download
- NPSA Social Media Auditors Poster - Security Staff 12-12-2023Download
- NPSA Social Media Auditors Poster - General Staff 12-12-2023Download
- NPSA General Staff Poster – White label version20-12-2023Download
- NPSA Security Staff Poster – White label version20-12-2023Download
- NPSA Social Media Auditors Training Slides20-12-2023Download
- NPSA Social Media Auditors Printable Rolodex / Business Cards20-12-2023Download