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Security Cameras and Using Them within the Law

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 25 Oct 2018 | 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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Hi I live in a housing property & have put several security cameras up they are not intruding on anyone else's property but I have now been told I have to take them down by the council. I have 3 children my husband works away & I feel very vulnerable. Can they make me take them down? If I do and anything happens to me/family/ property can I sue them as they are effecting my human right to protect myself. No one has come round to view the cameras Any advise would be appreciated
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maria - 18-Jul-18 @ 2:57 AM
Am I legally able to video myself for protection from another family member for abuse ?
Andrew Thompsondale - 14-Jul-18 @ 12:04 PM
My neighbour has CCTV cameras that point at our property.Tonight he has posted a footage from his CCTV on FB showing my husbands activities along with a slanderous post.How can I stop him from doing this, as it's caused untold distress to my husband who already suffers from mental health issues after suffering a mental breakdown in May 2017
Claisam - 14-Jul-18 @ 2:02 AM
A few years ago my house was subjected to a fire bombing ,I was advised by the police fire brigade. local council to install cctv which I have. Having had a complaint from my next door Neibour the police were called, the police said my cameras dont look directly onto the property so im legal. However my other camera looks onto other properties so the council could ask me to move them I cant see into the properties if I move them pointing down all I will see is the tops of peoples heads then of no use at all.By the advice below am I allowed to have cctv Using CCTV on your property. CCTV used on your property will be exempt from the Data Protection Act unless you are capturing footage of individuals outside your property. However, regardless of whether your CCTV system is exempt, the ICO recommends that you use CCTV in a responsible way to protect the privacy of others ...27 Feb 2018
s007 - 8-Jul-18 @ 1:54 PM
Phil-RVPW - Your Question:
Good morning, I have a bit of a different situation to what I have read on your page from others and I hope you may be able to help.We run a community Facebook page for the residents on our estate, it is a closed group and people can only join if they can prove who they are and where they live.Over the past 18 months we have seen an increase in crime in the area, this also includes ASB.On occation a member may post some information or images of an offence which has been carried out, to pre-warn other neighbours in the group but also to assist our local PCSO's as they too are in the group.When details are posted, we always review them first to determine if it is sensitive before approving or rejecting the post.We have a "No naming policy" in place to protect possible offenders as they Could be under age etc. If someone has a name we welcome them to privately contact the page admin so we can pass on the information to the police on their behalf.It has been quiet for a while so the group does seem to work well, however over the weekend, a member posted some images from her CCTV on her house showing 3 young lads possibly in their early teens climbing all over her scaffolding (her house is being renovated), there is a sign which clearly states CCTV is being recorded and to get to the property one would have to cross a large driveway.As there was no damage, injury or any form of assault, we approved the post in hope the parents would see their children and have a word with them, the homeowner didn't see any need to get the police involved at this stage and hopes the parents will be able to handle the situation.From here, we have had a young lady complain about the post and threatened to contact the police for allowing the post onto the page, she says he is underage but fails to disclose how she knows the boys. As far as I can see, there is no wrong doing on our part, the boys identities are protected and will continue to be.Could you advise where our group stands with this sort of situation please so we can ensure we are doing this by the book.Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this message and any response we receive.

Our Response:
Here's what the government advises in its information on domestic CCTV usage:
You should make sure that the information recorded is used only for the purpose for which your system was installed (for example it will not be appropriate to share any recordings on social media sites)
ProtectingYourself - 5-Jul-18 @ 12:24 PM
Pintobean - Your Question:
We have installed a RING doorbell for extra security whilst we are out of the house. Our front door is accessed via an alleyway. The alleyway has shared access for two of our neighbors. Should we ask/inform our neighbors that we have a motion recorder on our front door?

Our Response:
If the sensor means that people passing your front door in a communal area are being filmed then yes, you should make sure the neighbours are aware of this and if either of them complains about their privacy, you may need to remove it.
ProtectingYourself - 4-Jul-18 @ 12:07 PM
I have camera butso does y nabers we got onbut they truedfunny and every time i go out my home there light comes on andif i sit in my garden i been watched i feel i don't eny joy being aroundafter all ive been here for 32 longer than thm
Jackie - 4-Jul-18 @ 8:29 AM
We have installed a RING doorbell for extra security whilst we are out of the house.Our front door is accessed via an alleyway.The alleyway has shared access for two of our neighbors.Should we ask/inform our neighbors that we have a motion recorder on our front door?
Pintobean - 3-Jul-18 @ 11:40 AM
Sarabeth - Your Question:
I live on a private road, there's a large building on the other side of the road to us. Offices on the ground floor and flats above. There is currently CCTV on the street placed there and managed by the residents committee of this building. They are about to upgrade the system to have the capacity to look into my home and over it to the public path behind. There are no signs informing people they are being filmed and they have shut down any concerns I have regarding the new system. They claim because it is a private road and the cctv is placed there by the residents committee, they are not covered by the DPA. It is a self factored building so the committee has it's own legal entity, it's not just a group of neighbours deciding to pool resources. Are they correct that they are not covered by DPA? It seems strange to me that they wouldn't be. Thank you in advance for any response.

Our Response:
They cannot film the public path or your home. Talk to your local community policing team and if necessary seek professional legal advice to address this via the civil courts.
ProtectingYourself - 2-Jul-18 @ 11:44 AM
Good morning, I have a bit of a different situation to what i have read on your page from others and I hope you may be able to help. We run a community Facebook page for the residents on our estate, it is a closed group and people can only join if they can prove who they are and where they live. Over the past 18 months we have seen an increase in crime in the area, this also includes ASB. On occation a member may post some information or images of an offence which has been carried out, to pre-warn other neighbours in the group but also to assist our local PCSO's as they too are in the group. When details are posted, we always review them first to determine if it is sensitive before approving or rejecting the post. We have a "No naming policy" in place to protect possible offenders as they Could be under age etc. If someone has a name we welcome them to privately contact the page admin so we can pass on the information to the police on their behalf. It has been quiet for a while so the group does seem to work well, however over the weekend, a member posted some images from her CCTV on her house showing 3 young lads possibly in their early teens climbing all over her scaffolding (her house is being renovated), there is a sign which clearly states CCTV is being recorded and to get to the property one would have to cross a large driveway. As there was no damage, injury or any form of assault, we approved the post in hope the parents would see their children and have a word with them, the homeowner didn't see any need to get the police involved at this stage and hopes the parents will be able to handle the situation. From here, we have had a young lady complain about the post and threatened to contact the police for allowing the post onto the page, she says he is underage but fails to disclose how she knows the boys. As far as I can see, there is no wrong doing on our part, the boys identities are protected and will continue to be. Could you advise where our group stands with this sort of situation please so we can ensure we are doing this by the book. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this message and any response we receive.
Phil-RVPW - 2-Jul-18 @ 9:20 AM
treg - Your Question:
I live I a house containing six flats, the neighbour on the ground floor has installed hidden spy cam in the communal hallway, to film me as I had my dog in the build, although this is prohibited by my housing association and I have now place my dog with a frien until I move my issue is he has hidden a camera with no signage rather than filming me on his phone he has hidden camera which no doubt is film myselt my teenage step daughter and my fiance, I feel he has infringed on my right to privacy and also worry he has images of my step daughter and fiance

Our Response:
Make a complaint to your landlord about camera and your privacy.
ProtectingYourself - 29-Jun-18 @ 3:15 PM
I live on a private road, there's a large building on the other side of the road to us. Offices on the ground floor and flats above.There is currently CCTV on the street placed there and managed by the residents committee of this building.They are about to upgrade the system to have the capacity to look into my home and over it to the public path behind. There are no signs informing people they are being filmed and they have shut down any concerns I have regarding the new system. They claim because it is a private road and the cctv is placed there by the residents committee, they are not covered by the DPA. It is a self factored building so the committee has it's own legal entity, it's not just a group of neighbours deciding to pool resources. Are they correct that they are not covered by DPA? It seems strange to me that they wouldn't be. Thank you in advance for any response.
Sarabeth - 29-Jun-18 @ 1:39 AM
i live i a house containing six flats, the neighbour on the ground floor has installed hidden spy cam in the communal hallway, to film me as i had my dog in the build, although this is prohibited by my housing association and i have now place my dog with a frien until i move my issue is he has hidden a camera with no signage rather than filming me on his phone he has hidden camera which no doubt is film myselt my teenage step daughter and my fiance, i feel he has infringed on my right to privacy and also worry he has images of my step daughter and fiance
treg - 28-Jun-18 @ 8:26 PM
Hopkins - Your Question:
A neighbour of ours has quite a few static cameras around the exterior of their home. We’ve always gotten on and they showed us what can be seen from them once they were installed, so we knew our privacy was fine. Recently they’ve replaced a static camera (located just below the roof facia, in the centre of the house pointing towards the furthest point of the their back garden) with a what appears to be a 360 degee swivel camera. We knew from before that the old static one could see most of their garden. But this swivel one is constantly moving and we can see the lense is often pointing directly into our garden when we’re in it. We’ve asked the neighbours if they are now able to looking into our garden and they’ve become very quiet and avoiding us. Is this allowed?

Our Response:
No this is invading your privacy, you can ask the local police to inspect it and if necessary ask for it's removal.
ProtectingYourself - 13-Jun-18 @ 10:56 AM
I have been being forced to live under 24 hour surveillance for many years now. The strain of this is taking a serious toll on me. I have reached out many times to human rights organizations, those within government and law, and family and friends for help and full disclosure regarding this and have yet to receive a direct and honest response. I am often overwhelmed with sadness and struggle with anger. It is an extremely dehumanizing and isolating way to exist, and frightening and disheartening to be treated as though I am not entitled to be worthy of the same dignity and basic human rights that so many others take for granted on a daily basis. To not even have a right to be shown the truth. I cope with this problem to the best of my abilities, but I am beginning to realize that regardless of how I may attempt to train my mind or strengthen my heart, this is simply too immense a mental, emotional, and spiritual burden for any one human being. I very much need to recover my rights, to find real peace with myself and with those in my life that I care about. To do this I need the help of those with courage and morality to come forward and support and validate me by acknowledging theseviolations and injustices. All human beings need private moments for themselves, opportunities to relax and let their guard down. Occasions to spend time with those they care about, free from prying eyes and ears, free from judgements and speculations. I am no different. In order for me to regain these rights, these injustices must be brought to light and I cannot do this alone.Please can anybody advise. Thank you
Angella - 10-Jun-18 @ 7:11 AM
A neighbour of ours has quite a few static cameras around the exterior of their home. We’ve always gotten on and they showed us what can be seen from them once they were installed, so we knew our privacy was fine. Recently they’ve replaced a static camera (located just below the roof facia, in the centre of the house pointing towards the furthest point of the their back garden) with a what appears to be a 360 degee swivel camera. We knew from before that the old static one could see most of their garden. But this swivel one is constantly moving and we can see the lense is often pointing directly into our garden when we’re in it. We’ve asked the neighbours if they are now able to looking into our garden and they’ve become very quiet and avoiding us. Is this allowed?
Hopkins - 9-Jun-18 @ 2:37 PM
I did raise a grievance which was upheld, however from my point of view it just got swept under the carpet again, but the worst thing is that even after 11 weeks or so from the incident nobody has stepped forward and offered an apology.
Melvyn - 9-Jun-18 @ 10:38 AM
Melvyn - Your Question:
Melvyn - Your Question:I had an accident at work on the shop floor, did not report it. 2 people witnessed it a colleague and my section leader. The following day at work I found out that after my accident my section leader had gone to security podium and accessed footage of my accident and recorded it onto his phone then sent the video to colleagues and managers instore. The managers did nothing about it. Should this be allowed to happen?Our Response:Was this done to highlight safety issues in your workplace?ProtectingYourself - 6-Jun-18 @ 3:19 PThe accident was entirely my fault. My leg went dead and I just fell to the floor. What happened after was done I imagine just for fun.

Our Response:
We suggest you raise a formal complaint with your employer, this was completely unnecessary.
ProtectingYourself - 8-Jun-18 @ 3:13 PM
Melvyn - Your Question: I had an accident at work on the shop floor, did not report it. 2 people witnessed it a colleague and my section leader. The following day at work I found out that after my accident my section leader had gone to security podium and accessed footage of my accident and recorded it onto his phone then sent the video to colleagues and managers instore. The managers did nothing about it. Should this be allowed to happen? Our Response: Was this done to highlight safety issues in your workplace? ProtectingYourself - 6-Jun-18 @ 3:19 P The accident was entirely my fault. My leg went dead and I just fell to the floor. What happened after was done I imagine just for fun.
Melvyn - 7-Jun-18 @ 11:35 AM
Melvyn - Your Question:
I had an accident at work on the shop floor, did not report it. 2 people witnessed it a colleague and my section leader. The following day at work I found out that after my accident my section leader had gone to security podium and accessed footage of my accident and recorded it onto his phone then sent the video to colleagues and managers instore. The managers did nothing about it. Should this be allowed to happen?

Our Response:
Was this done to highlight safety issues in your workplace?
ProtectingYourself - 6-Jun-18 @ 3:19 PM
Country - Your Question:
There is a footpath across land I own that runs beside a river. Despite signs saying that the fishing is private and that dogs are not allowed in the river, a small minority of people either let their dogs swim, or poach and take fish from the river, some blatantly. Am I able to install CCTV in a couple of places, with appropriate signage, to act as both a deterrent and if necessary, to prosecute the poachers?

Our Response:
Check with your local police about what you are allowed to do with any footage, but you should be able to erect the CCTV one private land you own/river etc.
ProtectingYourself - 5-Jun-18 @ 11:37 AM
There is a footpath across land I own that runs beside a river.Despite signs saying that the fishing is private and that dogs are not allowed in the river, a small minority of people either let their dogs swim, or poach and take fish from the river, some blatantly.Am I able to install CCTV in a couple of places, with appropriate signage, to act as both a deterrent and if necessary, to prosecute the poachers?
Country - 4-Jun-18 @ 11:58 AM
I had an accident at work on the shop floor, did not report it. 2 people witnessed it a colleague and my section leader. The following day at work I found out that after my accident my section leader had gone to security podium and accessed footage of my accident and recorded it onto his phone then sent the video to colleagues and managers instore. The managers did nothing about it. Should this be allowed to happen?
Melvyn - 2-Jun-18 @ 10:58 AM
We recently moved ground floor house and before when we seen this home there is no camera front and back side and after we came we saw cameras which upstairs tenant he fixed on front door and back side of my gardens. He keep on eyes on us all the time and I told him to remove camera he was laughing on my face. I told to landlord and he said to me for safety but we live in as a 2 different families. Landlord doesn’t live in here. How can he fix camera without tenant permission to watching what we doing all the time . I don’t want this camera and I don’t how to take action against him. Please suggest me
Hetal - 26-Apr-18 @ 9:34 AM
Does using a web cam from an indoor bracket still come under these laws? Does the notice (if needed) have to be on the ground floor?
gentoo - 24-Apr-18 @ 8:47 AM
DeeBee - Your Question:
I own some land which the public have always had access to and is well used by the community in the summer. Recently we’ve had some fly tipping and I have thought about putting up trail cameras where the tipping occurs. Can I do this or do I need to put a notice up to say there are cameras in the area? Thanks

Our Response:
It might be worth consulting your local council or community policing body this. Are there any signs up informing people that the land is private and to use it respectfully etc? If so, then in time it might be acceptable to install CCTV, but you would probably have to erect signs informing users of its presence.
ProtectingYourself - 23-Apr-18 @ 10:24 AM
I own some land which the public have always had access to and is well used by the community in the summer. Recently we’ve had some fly tipping and I have thought about putting up trail cameras where the tipping occurs. Can I do this or do I need to put a notice up to say there are cameras in the area? Thanks
DeeBee - 22-Apr-18 @ 9:27 AM
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