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QUICK OVERVIEW: CCTV Installation Regulations

Much of modern life is played out in public, via the internet and social media. CCTV systems have become increasingly common throughout businesses and homes, not least as the equipment is now highly affordable. So, what’s to stop people putting cameras all over the place, recording you going about the daily life, and potentially sharing those images wherever they want?

To prevent CCTV being used inappropriately and to protect the owner of the equipment from potential legal action, there are strict regulations on how CCTV should be installed, and under what circumstances.

Laws and Government offices

As soon as CCTV became popular – and affordable – clear regulation was needed. The Protection of Freedoms Act (2012) was introduced to control the way CCTV is used in public spaces throughout England and Wales. This was followed up by a surveillance camera code of practice issued in 2013 by the Secretary of State. This provides clear guidelines on the purposes CCTV can be used for.

The Government has even created the role of Surveillance Camera Commissioner. Their office exists to ensure compliance, but also to review the way regulations are operating and to provide advice about using cameras.

The images that you create by using CCTV systems comes under a different Government department – The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which oversees the Data Protection Act (DPA).

Safeguarding Privacy

The main thrust of all the CCTV regulation and the code of conduct is to protect every individual’s right to privacy. CCTV can be used for security and to protect property, but for no other purpose.

So, for example, you can’t use it to measure your customers’ buying patterns and behaviour, or to spy on your neighbours. Putting CCTV in a particularly sensitive setting, such as a changing room, for example, is very much outside of the law.

Wherever you have CCTV cameras, the law demands that you warn people that their movements are being monitored. This involves having signs that clearly state CCTV is in operation in that area.

What are your rights as a homeowner?

The law acknowledges that you have a right to protect your home and that CCTV systems offer a valuable security measure. However, though CCTV is now commonplace for people’s own homes, the Government is concerned about the rights of people who live near the property or who walk past it. They have issued guidelines on positioning external cameras and being respectful of neighbours.

Storing images and film

How you use any images you generate from your camera is covered by the Data Protection Act. There are strict regulations on keeping such material private and never sharing it on public forums (such as social media).

The images can only be used for security issues and can only be kept for a reasonable amount of time before being destroyed. It is also important to ensure that only people responsible for security have access to the images and film.

Other regulations and guidelines on CCTV

Amongst the other things that you need to keep in mind when installing CCTV is that you must make sure that day and time stamps are accurate. You will find it difficult to use in evidence if that is not adhered to.

If anyone asks to see images you have recorded that feature them, by law you must provide that within 40 days. You can charge an administrative fee of up to £10.

Professional installation to stay within the law

A qualified and up-to-date installation firm will advise you on systems, locations and uses for CCTV equipment that keep you well within the confines of the law.

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