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Security Cameras and Using Them within the Law

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 14 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Security Cameras law crime criminal

Security cameras are a popular tool in the battle against crime. Businesses, government departments and local authorities have been using these cameras for years – but they are now becoming increasingly popular with householders. One large supplier of security cameras and related equipment says that sales of these products have increased by 265% in the last five years. Cameras can serve a dual purpose. Firstly, they have a deterrent effect, as wrong-doers are likely to avoid areas where they may be caught on camera. Secondly, film footage of a crime being committed can help to ensure that the criminal is convicted – as has happened in several recent high-profile cases.

Home Security Surveillance

Most security cameras used in the home will be CCTV – or closed circuit television cameras. This means that the images captured are only broadcast within the security system itself and cannot be received by other transmitters and receivers. Modern CCTV cameras can be very compact and accurate, providing low key, comprehensive coverage and images which can clearly identify those being filmed. Most security cameras will have a facility to record the images they transmit. There are various different recording options available: video, DVD and storage straight to a personal computer.

Security Cameras and the Data Protection Act

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) imposes strict rules on the use of security cameras themselves and the use of images of private individuals innocently going about their business. Section 36 of the DPA states that personal data – including video footage of an individual – captured only for limited domestic purposes is not covered by the restrictions of the DPA.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is an independent authority which reports directly to the UK parliament. It works to promote the protection of private information and access to public information. The Information Commissioner’s Office Code of Practice on the use of CCTV states that the use of security cameras for “limited household purposes”, including protecting an individual’s home from burglary, is NOT covered by the DPA - even if the camera captures images of streets or other areas near the home.

However, there is a widespread belief that the use of cameras is covered by the DPA if they capture images of people on property not belonging to the camera’s owner. Householders should bear in mind the use of the words “limited household purposes” – it is possible that some uses of CCTV may take them outside of this definition and bring them under the control of the DPA. For example, it may be that using a camera to snoop on a neighbour would not be exempt from the DPA restrictions.

Restrictions Imposed by the DPA

Where the use of cameras is covered by the DPA there are several requirements which have to be satisfied – these include:
  • Putting up clear signs to say that CCTV is in operation;
  • Only using the footage for the purpose for which it has been taken;
  • Only keeping footage for as long as it is needed;
  • Not releasing footage to third parties;
  • Keeping the footage safe.
If a camera has been set up to prevent crime the footage can be kept for as long as it is needed to detect and prosecute a crime, and can be passed to the police and other relevant authorities for this purpose.

The Human Rights Act

Under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1988 an individual has the right to respect for his private and family life, and of his home. It could well be that training a security camera on a neighbour’s front door would amount to a breach of this fundamental human right.

Cameras and Evidence

It is vital that cameras are installed in a way and place that complies with any legal restrictions. If they are not, any footage of a crime may not be usable as evidence at a subsequent trial. Criminal trials are subject to very rigorous rules on what is and is not allowed to be used as evidence against the accused. If evidence has been obtained in a way that is not legal it will almost certainly be disallowed by the judge presiding over the case.

The police advise all users of CCTV to take great care that they comply with any legal restrictions to prevent potentially vital evidence being rendered worthless. Due to the potential consequences, householders may be wise to err on the side of caution when operating CCTV from their home.

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Can a son put camera in father house without permition as it interfere father privecy which indian law is applied against son
Sufiya - 14-Dec-17 @ 3:06 PM
Hi, i suffer from domestic abuse on a regular occurrence so wanted to installtiny camera's to log the abuse. Police said this will be a violation as its a rented property and need to ask owner? Owner is friends with husband and my husband being a policeman, not sure if they are deliberately fobbing me off? Thanks
Numbugg - 12-Dec-17 @ 9:21 AM
Ray - Your Question:
My house has no front garden, it's straight out onto public pavement, ive had someone kick my new front door and cause unrepairable damage. How can I put a camera up to watch front of house without breaking law on filming footpaths

Our Response:
If you're filming the public passing on the pavement outside your door, there may be privacy issues. It might better to speak to your local council and see if there are any plans to put CCTV & notices in the area. If there aren't any plans, ask what they can do and whether you can erect your own CCTV with a notice to the public etc
ProtectingYourself - 6-Dec-17 @ 12:00 PM
My house has no front garden, it's straight out onto public pavement, ive had someone kick my new front door and cause unrepairable damage. How can i put a camera up to watch front of house without breaking law on filming footpaths
Ray - 5-Dec-17 @ 2:20 PM
I was given permission to access cctv from my manager a few years ago. The owner also knew I had access. I was then recently being harassed by another member of staff. This can be seen on cctv showing myself and her. I took a recording of this incident. Is this allowed?
Katie - 1-Dec-17 @ 3:26 AM
Ben - Your Question:
I have had a customer steal from me, so I reviewed the cctv and took a picture of the person from the cctv and showed to their employer as they were known to me to identify the person. Is that ok to do?

Our Response:
No, you should have contacted the police about this.
ProtectingYourself - 29-Nov-17 @ 11:04 AM
I have had a customer steal from me, so I reviewed the cctv and took a picture of the person from the cctv and showed to their employer as they were known to me to identify the person. Is that ok to do?
Ben - 28-Nov-17 @ 2:43 PM
BP2912 - Your Question:
We have rented a property for a few nights and have found WiFi covert camera's installed. Is this permissible? Surely they should declare this?

Our Response:
No, CCTV should not be used in situations where people can expect privacy. You can complain/request more information about this from the Information commissioner
ProtectingYourself - 27-Nov-17 @ 11:58 AM
We have rented a property for a few nights and have found WiFi covert camera's installed. Is this permissible? Surely they should declare this?
BP2912 - 23-Nov-17 @ 8:30 AM
I am a carer, live in care, in the placement the family want to install a webcam to look if there mum are eating. How i am sure about my privacy and the video is not going on third part? Do they must to ask my agree?
Michelle - 17-Nov-17 @ 10:31 AM
So what happens if your camera has 55 or more than degrees visbility and it covers the road?
Ley - 15-Nov-17 @ 3:48 PM
I live in a housing association flat they av put cctv cameras in corridors which can see our front doors . We weren't notified and there are no signs.. is this allowed
Debz - 11-Nov-17 @ 6:59 PM
My ex husband has put visual and audio cameras all over his house. He said it because he wants to know if anyone is talking about him and also to make sure none of the kids lie to him. The kids have not agreed to being filmed and are quite upset by his actions. Is it legal for him to do This?
Lainy - 11-Nov-17 @ 2:27 AM
Can iput up cctv signs without actually having a camera...to go on a wall facing council garages
Ray - 9-Nov-17 @ 6:43 PM
Is it ok for the council to put up cctv that looks into my bedroom?
Jcass - 7-Nov-17 @ 12:46 PM
Jackie - Your Question:
Hi I have a son with autism. I am also his legal guardian. My son lives in a residential home with another roommate. I want to install a camera in at least his room. Hopefully with audio, because I am doubtful about some of the staff. The home is operated by an agency and receives money from the state for his care. He does pay rent and utilities out of his disability income. Am I able to install a camera?

Our Response:
You would not be able to install CCTV as it is not your property. If you have concerns about the staff, you address this through their documented procedure or contact your local authority care organisation body.
ProtectingYourself - 6-Nov-17 @ 10:42 AM
Hi I have a son with autism. I am also his legal guardian. My son lives in a residential home with another roommate. I want to install a camera in at least his room. Hopefully with audio, because i am doubtful about some of the staff. The home is operated by an agency and receives money from the state for his care. He does pay rent and utilities out of his disability income. Am I able to install a camera?
Jackie - 3-Nov-17 @ 8:00 PM
tibs - Your Question:
Hi I have CCTV outside my domestic home they have been there for eight years I am registered with the ICO, I now have received a letter and a form informing me I need planning permission for my cameras they want £190 pounds, and plans drawn up of my house. What can I do. I need the cctv because of the crime in my area, the police have been to see and view my cctv and they don't have an issue with them.

Our Response:
If your local council says they need planning permission you will have to apply for it unfortunately.
ProtectingYourself - 2-Oct-17 @ 11:42 AM
hi I have CCTV outside my domestic home they have been there for eight years I am registered with the ICO, I now have received a letter and a form informing me I need planning permission for my cameras they want £190 pounds, and plans drawn up of my house. What can I do. I need the cctv because of the crime in my area, the police have been to see and view my cctv and they don't have an issue with them.
tibs - 29-Sep-17 @ 8:05 AM
Mike - Your Question:
Hi,I'm putting an IP camera up in my shop to keep an eye on what's going on in there, when I'm not around,their will be no recording involved and my staff will have access to the camera on their days off via the password,What does the law say?,Thankyou x

Our Response:
As long as the customers are aware that filming is happening it should be fine. It's worth taking the ICO assessment to see if you need to register
ProtectingYourself - 19-Sep-17 @ 10:52 AM
Hi,I'm putting an IP camera up in my shop to keep an eye on what's going on in there, when I'm not around,their will be no recording involved and my staff will have access to the camera on their days off via the password,What does the law say?,Thankyou x
Mike - 17-Sep-17 @ 9:55 AM
Tiggy - Your Question:
Hi my house has shared pathway to my and my neighbours front doors I recently notice a front door bell on viewing same doorbell found out it has a camera which also has a voice and video with it and a sensor which can be used with a smart phone it has a 180° movement plus a night sensor, I would like to know my rights on it as very concerned it will pick up anyone who calls to my house and they can hear what I say to my callers is this allowed to happen?

Our Response:
They probably didn't do this intentionally and you may have to seek legal advice as to whether it infringes your privacy etc
ProtectingYourself - 15-Sep-17 @ 11:22 AM
Hi my house has shared pathway to my and my neighbours front doors i recently notice a front door bell on viewing same doorbell found out it has a camera which also has a voice and video with it and a sensor which can be used with a smart phone it has a 180° movement plus a night sensor, i would like to know my rights on it as very concerned it will pick up anyone who calls to my house and they can hear what i say to my callers is this allowed to happen?
Tiggy - 12-Sep-17 @ 5:38 PM
Mick - Your Question:
A Haulage Company has erected all round Security cameras in it's yard. One of the cameras is at the bottom of my garden, and it overlooks my garden completely. As I have not been notified or asked if I mind that it's there. Are my Human Rights being invaded ?

Our Response:
Make a complaint to the company first of all. If you're not satisfied with their response, send a letter asking them to re-site the camera that's focused on yourproperty and suggest that you will take legal action if it's not moved. You may then have to consider legal action or a complaint to the Information Commissioner.
ProtectingYourself - 11-Sep-17 @ 11:43 AM
A Haulage Company has erected all round Security cameras in it's yard. One of the cameras is at the bottom of my garden, and it overlooks my garden completely. As I have not been notified or asked if I mind that it's there. Are my Human Rights being invaded ?
Mick - 8-Sep-17 @ 8:21 PM
Rooboo - Your Question:
Hi. We have a tenant in our granny flat. It is part of our house, but a separate flat. He is paranoid and thinks someone, us, is coming into the flat and snooping. He has told us, He is installing security cameras in the flat to check what is going on when he is not there. Why tell us if he thinks it is us? My concern is, I am a music teacher and have a lot of young children, under 16 coming to my home for lessons. They park and walk in front of the flat Windows to get access to my music room. How do I ensure he is not capturing any images of children coming to my house? And what can I do about it? Thanks

Our Response:
Speak to your local police, they may be willing to come out and have a look at the CCTV and where it's sited. If you're worried about the images and what he's doing with them, there's not much you can do short of legal action, but you would need proof.
ProtectingYourself - 21-Aug-17 @ 2:38 PM
Hi. We have a tenant in our granny flat. It is part of our house, but a separate flat. He is paranoid and thinks someone, us, is coming into the flat and snooping. He has told us, He is installing security cameras in the flat to check what is going on when he is not there. Why tell us if he thinks it is us? My concern is, I am a music teacher and have a lot of young children, under 16 coming to my home for lessons. They park and walk in front of the flat Windows to get access to my music room. How do I ensure he is not capturing any images of children coming to my house? And what can I do about it? Thanks
Rooboo - 18-Aug-17 @ 3:14 PM
Crafty - Your Question:
My Neighbour has put up a CCTV camera from their house looking towards one of their cars parked outside off my house. Although I have a large hedge around my property they can still see me coming out off my gate or when im walking pass my own house, I feel very uncomfortable but unable to speck to them as they will shout and swear to me. Are they breaking the law and if so who do I report them too.

Our Response:
If you're unhappy and feel your privacy is being impinged, you should speak with your local police. They'll take a look and let you know whether anything can be done.
ProtectingYourself - 16-Aug-17 @ 1:53 PM
My Neighbour has put up a CCTV camera from their house looking towards one of their cars parked outside off my house.Although I have a large hedge around my property they can still see me coming out off my gate or when im walking pass my own house,I feel very uncomfortable but unable to speck to them as they will shout and swear to me.Are they breaking the law and if so who do I report them too.
Crafty - 14-Aug-17 @ 9:37 PM
A builder has started a development right next to our golf club. One of the owners has put a camera on his garden wall pointing to a tee close to his house. Should we inform him that what he is doing is illegal and to cease immediately.
Big ears - 30-Jul-17 @ 6:29 PM
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