CCTV is one of the best weapons in the fight against theft and crime and, in the UK, the public are well used to seeing CCTV cameras pretty much everywhere they go.

Whilst the public are generally supportive of these cameras, it is important to be aware of the fact that they do involve a certain degree of intrusion into people’s lives. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has conducted research into the public’s perceptions when it comes to the use of CCTV, finding that there is an expectation that it is used responsibly and with certain safeguards in place.

Organisations that use CCTV are required to do so within the realms of the Data Protection Act 1998. The Act does not apply when CCTV is used in a domestic environment to protect a home from burglary, just in a commercial setting.

Following the Rules

One of the major things to be mindful of is the fact that images of people are covered by the Data Protection Act, as is information derived about people that can be gleaned from images, such as street door numbers or vehicle registration numbers. This is why you will always see such information blotted out on TV footage or websites.

The law requires that any business using CCTV must tell people that they are potentially being recorded. Signage is the most obvious option, and such signage must be easily readable and clearly visible.

It is also a requirement that you notify the ICO as to the reason why the CCTV is being used on your premises so that they can see it is justified. You must also carefully control who has access to the recordings and make those individuals subject to strict confidentiality obligations.

Something else of great importance is to ensure that the system is only used for the purpose for which it was intended. So for example, if you had the CCTV installed for the purpose of preventing theft or other crimes, you must not use it to assess staff productivity.

On the subject of monitoring, the whole area of CCTV use and employment law warrants a post in its own right, so we’ll cover that at some point in the future.

The Human Rights Act

One last thing we will mention in this post though is that the Data Protection Act is not the only piece of legislation that comes into play when using CCTV in a commercial environment. Because CCTV can give rise to privacy issues through surveillance and through its information gathering role, The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) also applies. Invasion of privacy through surveillance is something that regularly hits the news headlines, and to such a degree that the Government has said it intends to address an increase in CCTV regulation.

CCTV: A Crucial Element in any Security System

Whilst it may appear the use of CCTV is something of a minefield, the fact remains it forms a crucial element in any security system and is a highly valuable crime prevention tool. Of course, keeping within the law is essential, which is why when you come to install a CCTV system, you should consult with security industry professionals who are fully conversant with the relevant acts and have adequate experience in supplying the commercial sector.

Barry Bros Security fits the bill in these respects, so if you are considering CCTV, talk to us. Our specialists will guide you through every aspect and give you the advice you need to operate your system in compliance with the law. In the meantime, we’ll leave you with a useful link to the ICO code of practice on the use of CCTV, a helpful guide on how to comply with the Data Protection Act when operating CCTV on commercial premises.