CCTV cameras have become a normal part of everyday life in the UK. We’re used to seeing them (and being filmed by them) in public spaces across the country. As should be expected, CCTV use is closely regulated for all uses by specific acts of parliament.
If you’re planning on installing CCTV security for your home or business, you need to be aware of the legal requirements.
Publicly owned surveillance
All public uses of surveillance equipment, including CCTV, are regulated by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the subsequent amendments in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. These acts cover both local authority and law enforcement uses of surveillance equipment.
At their most basic level, they require surveillance to be used for a specific purpose i.e. preventing or investigating a specific crime for which the penalty is at least a 6 month custodial sentence. The Protection of Freedoms Act specifies that any such use must be authorised by a judge, and provides a statutory code of practice detailing how surveillance equipment can be used in order to comply with regulations. Anyone in charge of public CCTV must be familiar with this code.
CCTV for protecting business premises makes up the majority of surveillance in the UK. This is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998. So the regulation applies more to the data collected than the actual camera itself.
The most important points to note here are that if you are using CCTV on your premises you must:
have clear signs to let people know you are using CCTV and why
provide images to anyone you’ve recorded (of them) within 40 days of request for a maximum charge of £10
share images with the authorities e.g. the police, if they ask for them
keep images only as long as your business needs them
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a CCTV code of practice that details procedures that will ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act. Companies may use other procedures to comply with the act, but following the code of practice will guarantee you stay within the law.
There is no regulation of domestic use of CCTV security systems. The Data Protection explicitly states that regulations for CCTV usage do not apply to domestic use.
However, that does not mean there are no potential legal pitfalls. If someone (e.g. a neighbour) feels their privacy is being intruded, they can appeal to article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – The Right to Respect for Private and Family Life, Home and Correspondence. So be careful about where you point that camera.
Image credit to Mike Fleming