The use of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) in the UK has surged in popularity among homeowners seeking to enhance their property security. However, the deployment of these systems is subject to specific legal guidelines, primarily under the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when the cameras capture images outside the homeowner’s property. Understanding these laws is crucial to ensure that your home security measures comply with UK legislation.
CCTV Laws UK: Understanding the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR
Capturing Images Beyond Property Boundaries
When your CCTV system captures images of people outside your property boundary, such as in neighbours’ homes or gardens, public spaces, or shared areas, GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 apply. This means you must ensure your CCTV use complies with these laws to avoid regulatory action by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) or legal action by affected individuals.
Privacy Impact Assessment
Before installing CCTV, consider conducting a privacy impact assessment to evaluate if your CCTV system intrudes excessively on others’ privacy. It’s important to plan where your cameras will be placed, which direction they’ll be pointing and their field of view, so you can assess what they can see and whether it will infringe upon another party’s privacy.
The Role of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner
The Surveillance Camera Commissioner (SCC) encourages compliance with the Home Secretary’s Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. This code applies to surveillance systems operated by relevant authorities in public places in England and Wales. However, the SCC advises even those operating domestic CCTV systems to adopt this code voluntarily.
Operating Your Domestic CCTV System Responsibly
Considering Neighbours’ Privacy
It’s important to position your CCTV to minimise intrusion into neighbours’ privacy. Systems with privacy filters can reduce intrusion and put your neighbours minds at ease. These filters allow you to essentially ‘black out’ areas of the cameras field of view, meaning that you still get to record the necessary areas to protect your property, but without inadvertently capturing something you shouldn’t.
Transparency is key. Inform your neighbours about your CCTV system and consider putting up signs indicating that recording is taking place. It may be worthwhile speaking with your neighbours beforehand and letting them know your intentions. This could help them feel as though they’ve been consulted and also means that you can initiate a conversation about local security. Your biggest asset in protecting your property is a good relationship with neighbours. Having them on-side increases the chances of deterring, detecting and reporting crime within the local area on with regards to your property specifically.
Complying with the Data Protection Act
Installation and Operation
You are responsible for ensuring the correct installation of your CCTV system and for all the information it records. The system should not be used for any purpose other than protecting your property. Make sure you understand how to operate it and respond appropriately to subject access requests you receive from people you record. If in doubt, we’re always happy to provide with you with the best advice and an honest opinion. Striking the balance between others’ privacy and your own property’s protection sometimes requires careful consideration and forethought – it can useful to employ the experience and knowledge of experts such as ourselves.
Storage of Recorded Information
Ensure the date and time on your system are accurate and do not store information for longer than necessary to protect your property. How long this is, is subject for debate. It is highly unlikely that you will ever have to justify this, but it’s worth considering. Having CCTV footage from 3 months ago seems reasonable, but it is a lot harder to justify if it is 5 years for example.
You also need to consider the cost of storage. Many devices will write over the current recordings within a set timeframe, meaning that if you do want to store footage you will need to use an external device. The more footage you store (and for longer) the more expensive this will be.
CCTV and the Law
Legal to Protect Property
It is legal to install CCTV to protect against intruders and trespassers, subject to planning and other considerations. Private CCTV installations are generally exempt from the Data Protection Act unless they capture footage outside the property’s curtilage.
Seeking Advice from the ICO
If you wish to film outside your property onto public spaces, it’s advisable to seek advice from the ICO to avoid potential legal issues, such as harassment under the Public Order Act or Protection from Harassment Act. Most of the installations we perform do not require this; but as our communities become increasingly crowded and technology becomes more advanced, we expect to see an increase in the need to do this.
Other Legal Considerations
If in rented accommodation, you need the written consent of the landlord for CCTV installation. Cameras on other people’s property require written permission and possibly planning permission. Aside from that, it’s just good manners when you are renting a property from someone.
Understanding and adhering to the laws governing the use of CCTV systems in the UK is crucial for homeowners. These regulations are designed to balance the need for security with respect for privacy. As technology evolves and the use of home surveillance systems becomes more widespread, staying informed about these laws will ensure that your home security measures are not only effective but also legally compliant.
We fit CCTV and home security systems throughout Greater Manchester, Stockport and Cheshire on a regular basis. If you are considering the need for CCTV, we highly recommend getting in touch for a no obligation conversation to see if it’s the right decision for you.
This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. If in doubt, you should always contact your local police force or engage a solicitor.