Keeping it Legal - CCTV and the Law

Posted on 14th March 2017

When most people thing of CCTV being used in law enforcement they think of a string of high-profile crimes that have been solved or publicised with the help of footage. However few people actually know how CCTV surveillance cameras have helped the UK mitigate crime rates. Here are the facts about CCTV cameras in the UK.

Not everyone smiles when they’re on camera. CCTV has become a valuable part of law enforcement in cities today, but are the cameras policing our cities on the right side of the law themselves?

cctv law

CCTV installation requirements

If you are thinking of installing CCTV for your business or home, you will appreciate how it can help with crime prevention and bringing criminals to justice. But not everyone is aware of the important laws that are in place which aim to strike the right balance between keeping neighbourhoods safe and protecting privacy.

The Data Protection Act 1998 covers how CCTV should be installed and used by businesses and organisations. The Information Commissioner’s Office deals with issues about companies’ use of CCTV and it offers some useful guidelines here. The Act does not, however, cover the use of CCTV by home owners. This may lead people to think that they have carte blanche in installing CCTV on domestic property, but doing so may lead to unexpected legal issues.

Complying with CCTV laws in the UK

Home CCTV needs to be installed in such a way so as to comply with privacy laws. Falling foul of these laws can lead home owners open to accusations of violating privacy or even suggestions that the cameras amount to harassment.

Privacy is covered by the Human Rights Act and your neighbours are entitled to object if the cameras are trained on public areas or even on their own property. Article 8 of the Act, entitled “The Right to Respect for Private and Family Life, Home and Correspondence”, means that this could become a police matter, which would certainly be ironic given that crime prevention is the most likely aim.

Most home owners would be more than happy to have the CCTV trained on their own property alone, as this would often cover all their security needs, but occasionally the scope of the cameras would also take in part of the nearby public areas or their neighbours’ property. In this case, advice can be sought from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

If your home is rented, then you would need to ask your landlord for consent to having CCTV installed. The chances are that the landlord would be delighted, as it would help to keep the property secure, but rather than make this assumption, it is important to secure this consent up front.

If the most practical place to install the camera pointing at your home proves to be on a neighbouring property then of course it is essential to ask your neighbour’s permission first. They may welcome the suggestion and take the opportunity to install a security camera of their own but respect for their property is essential to keep on the right side of the law, not just for good neighbourly relations.

CCTV Law Summary

So remember this five point plan for the installation of CCTV on domestic property:

The cameras should be trained on your own property only. Seek advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office if the cameras capture public areas or other people’s properties. Secure consent from the landlord if it is rented accommodation. Secure consent from neighbours if you would like to install the cameras on their property. Use an expert CCTV company who can ensure all your legal obligations are met.

By following these guidelines, there should be many more smiles for the camera.

 
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