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CCTV and The Law Part 2: Commercial Use of CCTV

We’ve already delved into the use of CCTV for home owners in Part 1 of the series. This second part of the series will take a look at where you stand using CCTV for commercial purposes, such as to monitor your shop. CCTV for commercial purposes is much more complicated than home use, we’ve provided links to additional information which you should read in addition to this article to ensure you fully understand the implications of using CCTV for your business.

Commercial CCTV and the Law

Unlike home use of CCTV, commercial use MUST comply with the Data Protection Act. says that you must do the following things:

  1. put up a sign so people know CCTV is in operation and why it is being used
  2. be able to provide images within 40 days to anyone you’ve recorded (you can charge up to £10 for this)
  3. share images with the authorities, e.g. police, if they ask for them
  4. keep images only as long as your business needs them

CCTV signs are cheap, we sell a CCTV warning sign for £2.99. This sign reads: “Warning 24hr CCTV – Images are remotely stored & monitored for the prevention and detection of crime.” So this clearly states CCTV is being used and the reason for it, meaning you comply with the law for commercial use of CCTV. The Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to request information held about them, including CCTV footage of them. You can charge a maximum £10 administration fee for this and must provide the footage within 40 days of their request. There is no minimum or maximum time period in which you should keep the footage you record, you should not keep it longer than necessary. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has lots of useful information regarding use of CCTV and it’s worth a read if you plan on using CCTV for your business. One of the areas the provide advice on is effectively administrating CCTV to comply with the Data Protection Act.The ICO released a revised CCTV Code of Practice in 2008 to make sure businesses are aware of best practice when using CCTV. The ICO says that you must:

  • Consider first any alternative and less intrusive ways to protect your business other than CCTV.
  • Identify whether you will be using a CCTV system to identify individuals i.e. capture facial features which make a person recognisable.
  • Not record conversations, so purchase a system where the audio recording can be switched off. 
  • Restrict access to storage of the footage so only you or the person in charge of the CCTV can access it.
  • Do not film irrelevant areas or places where people expect privacy, such as toilets and staff rooms. It’s important to consider why you are using CCTV and focus your cameras on capturing the footage you need. Where possible avoid being overly intrusive on people’s privacy.
  • Each year assess the impact your CCTV system has on people’s privacy and make any adjustments to minimalise this.
  • Someone within your business must be assigned as the Data Controller in charge of sensitive data and your CCTV footage. You must notify the ICO that you will be using CCTV and renew this agreement with the ICO annually. Use the link above to the ICO’s website for more information on this. Any third parties handling the footage should have a written contract ensuring they comply with the Data Protection Act.

There’s a lot of information on the Information Commissioner’s website which clearly outlines what you need to do before, during and after installing CCTV for your business. If you would like help choosing the right CCTV system for your business then get in touch with one of our experts. Call 0117 325 2470 or email    

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