Data Protection Act, CCTV Cameras and the Law
Q: Recently there’s been a spate of break-ins in my local area. I already have a burglar alarm installed, but want to increase the security of my home even more – would CCTV be a good idea, and is it legal to install cameras in a domestic property?
A: CCTV is becoming even more popular as a security device– according to the CCTV User Group; there are around 1.5 million systems in operation in the UK. As it has grown in popularity, CCTV has become an affordable way to secure properties, deter criminals and capture evidence of criminal activity. However, if you’re planning on installing security cameras, you’ll need to know about UK CCTV law.
Planning Permission and Building Regulations for CCTV
You won’t need planning permission to install CCTV, but if you live in a conservation area or listed building it’s worth double checking this with your Local Building Authority. Building regulations also don’t apply to CCTV installation unless the work involves installing a lot of cables, in which case the installer should follow electrical safety guidelines.
CCTV Data Protection Act 1998
The Data Protection Act 1998 regulates how CCTV is used to protect privacy. It’s important to note that this CCTV privacy law does not apply to domestic properties – so if you’re installing a CCTV camera outside your home to protect from burglary, you don’t need to worry about complying with legislation. However, you should make sure that the camera doesn’t breach the privacy of other unnecessarily; so be careful when pointing it at a neighbour’s property.
The Data Protection Act and CCTV for commercial installations
Businesses, as well as public and commercial organisations do need to adhere to the Data Protection Act when installing CCTV systems. The regulations state that businesses installing CCTV should:
- Let the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) know about the installation and provide them with the name of the person responsible for the system
- Ensure that all CCTV cameras produce clear images
- Ensure the public are aware that CCTV cameras are present – the easiest way to do this is to display clear signs, which should include the name and contact information of the organisation in charge of the CCTV system (where this information isn’t immediately obvious)
- Not install cameras in changing rooms or toilets without very serious cause – if they choose to do this signs must make extra clear that CCTV is operating in these areas
- Not record conversations between members of the public
- Store footage securely and destroy it after the appropriate period of time
- Not share CCTV footage with third party groups or organisations, unless as part of legal proceedings
- Supply footage to those they have filmed upon their request within 40 calendar days of receiving the request and for a maximum charge of £10
- Carry out regular checks to ensure the CCTV system is functioning properly
A professional CCTV installation company can provide further advice on how to make sure your CCTV installation complies with the law.