CCTV and The Law Part 1: Home Use of CCTV
This first blog of the series looks at CCTV and the law when it comes to home use of CCTV. For example, using CCTV to guard the outside or inside of your home, your possessions and your family. The law regarding CCTV varies depending on how you plan to use it. Home use of CCTV is quite different to commercial use of CCTV which will be discussed in the next blog. If you are a business looking to use CCTV then you must comply with The Data Protection Act.
First of all it’s important to note that there is no legal restriction to photography in a public space as our rights to privacy are different in public areas. You can take a photo of your local highstreet that may include people and this is quite legal. A quote from the House of Lords in July 2008 on this subject states, “There are no legal restrictions on photography in a public place and no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place.” When the topic of CCTV arises many people will start mentioning the Data Protection Act and The Human Rights Act. The latter applies to Public Bodies only so does not place restrictions on home owners or individuals using CCTV. If you are recording the information for your own use and security then The Data Protection Act is also not applicable. However, it is important to note that a camera being purposely pointed at someone’s property could end in prosecution against you if this was found to be deliberate. You have a right to monitor your property but have some respect for your neighbours. Misuse can still lead to a criminal prosecution against you.
The Data Protection Act
Using a CCTV system for home use for security or safety reasons makes you exempt from The Data Protection Act. Your cameras can be directed in and outside of your property and it’s acceptable to have some parts of the street and surrounding areas in view. However as mentioned above, misuse of your CCTV cameras which deliberately invades someone else’s privacy can lead to harassment charges on repeat offences. Voyeuristic or anti-social uses of CCTV are not tolerated by police. For home use of CCTV you do not legally need to place signs warning that CCTV is in use, but it may help your case if you do should the footage be used as evidence against a burglar for example. It also helps act as a deterrent to criminal activities on or near your property.
Using CCTV as Evidence
There are a few crucial things to do should some of the footage you have recorded be needed as evidence by the Police. Firstly, make sure you backup the required footage as soon as possible, on a CD or USB Memory Stick. Some Digital Video Recorders will write over old footage once it’s reached its full storage amount. The sooner you back the footage up the less likely this is to happen. Be careful with over-viewing the footage once you have backed it up, particularly if you used a CD or DVD. Repeat use can damage the CD or DVD and corrupt the footage and make it unusable. Once you’ve backed up the footage, make sure it’s marked with the date, time and any reference required by the police, such as a crime reference number. Hand this evidence over to the police and keep a record of all the evidence you submitted, such as the date, time and reference.
Are you looking to install CCTV in your home? Check out our range of Home Security Systems HERE. Or if you need some help or advice get in touch with us on (+44) 0117 325 2470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.