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CCTV and Data Protection Laws Explained

Are you considering installing CCTV in your workplace? As an employer, it is important that you understand the relevant laws and regulations surrounding public recording. There has been a significant rise in the number of people considering this form of criminal deterrence and the market for comprehensive recording equipment is rapidly expanding. These days, you can monitor your workplace from anywhere in the world via your mobile phone. And, many security systems will automatically alert the authorities, should unexpected activity by detected. However, without taking the right precautions, the risk of prosecution around CCTV can find themselves directed towards you. This guide is here to explain what you are required to do and how to use CCTV legally.

Your requirements

If you decide to use CCTV or closed-circuit television recordings in a commercial environment, you are required to tell people that they are being recorded. This falls under the Data Protection Act of 1998. It is vital that you provide a range of clear, visible and readable signs around your workplace and specifically in the areas of recording. These should be universally understandable and guarantee that everyone, regardless of nationality, skill level or experience can digest their information.

As an employer or as the person appointed to maintain the CCTV recorded footage in a business, you must notify the Information Commissioner’s Office as to the presence of CCTV equipment and the reason why. They are the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest. More information about the ICO can be found on their website here.

You must control who can see the recordings taken from your CCTV equipment and only record for the purpose of which it was intended. In short, this means that, if you have installed CCTV equipment to prevent criminal behaviour, you should not use it to monitor employees as an example.

CCTV should also not be used in environments where you would normally expect privacy, unless in exceptional circumstances. This includes rooms such as toilets or changing rooms. The exception to this rule is where very serious concerns are raised and the appointed CCTV personnel must take care to ensure individuals are aware that cameras are in use.

What legislation exists to cover CCTV use?

There are 3 main pieces of CCT legislation to take into account as an employer. These include:

– The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

– The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice 2013 (the ‘SCCOP’)

– The Data Protection Act (the ‘DPA’)

The key points from each are listed below:

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

This act features a code of practice for CCTV camera systems with judicial approval of certain surveillance activities by local authorities. It ensures that CCTV use is transparent, proportionate and that imagery captured is high enough quality to be used by police in criminal cases.

The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice 2013 (the ‘SCCOP’)

This practice aims to reassure the public that CCTV are being used to protect and support communities rather than spy on them.

Data Protection Act 1998

This act requires organisations to protect personal data held in relation to individuals, which includes CCTV imagery. It states that:

  • You must have a legitimate reason for using CCTV such as to deter crime.
  • You must carry out a privacy impact assessment to determine the extent of CCTV required, where and at what times.
  • CCTV data should only be used and kept to fulfil its purpose.
  • Access to this data should be restricted to those who require access.
  • CCTV data should be stored securely to prevent unauthorised access and hacking using encryption, where necessary.
  • CCTV data should only be stated for a reasonable period of time and then deleted securely.
  • Valid subject access requests should be approved and the data supplied within 40 days.
  • Clear and appropriate signs should be used throughout the building to ensure individuals are aware of the use of recording equipment.

Subject Access Requests

As individuals, we are all entitled to obtain CCTV recorded footage of ourselves. In order to gain this, a subject access request must be submitted stating information about the identity of the requester and a fee – up to £10.

As a CCTV user, you are forbidden from sharing footage of identifiable people with the media or via the internet to be used for entertainment purposes. In addition, once CCTV footage has been requested by the police, the operator must ensure full compliance with the Data Protection Act to ensure footage is safe and secure.

It is worth noting that the DPA specifications only apply to commercial CCTV usage. If you are using recording footage in a domestic setting, they will only come into play if your cameras record outside of the boundaries of your property.

How do I ensure my commercial CCTV equipment is compliant?

Remember, non-compliance with relevant legislation and practices around CCTV footage can result in fines of up to £500,000. Therefore, it is vital that you take all necessary steps. These include:

  • Registering with the ICO as a CCTV operator.
  • Having a clear purpose for CCTV use which is regularly reviewed.
  • Carrying out a Privacy Impact Assessment and regularly reviewing it.
  • Using clear signs to identify the use of recording equipment.
  • Publishing or making available the name of the individual in charge of your CCTV equipment.
  • Implementing clear rules, policies and procedures around the use of CCTV footage and informing staff of these.
  • Ensuring recording and CCTV data is captured and stored securely.
  • Keeping the recordings for an appropriate period of time (normally 30 days).
  • Restricting employee access and implementing a disclosure policy.
  • Deleting older recordings regularly and securely.
  • Ensuring the date and time are set correctly, should the footage be needed for criminal prosecutions.
  • Auditing your CCTV use regularly.

You must not:

  • Record conversations between members of the public.
  • Install CCTV in private spaces including changing rooms and/or toilets.

CCTV Signs

All CCTV recording footage should be accompanied by clear and easy to understand signs. These should inform people of the existence of cameras. Here at Lasting Impressions, we have a wide range of different options that benefit different environments. Simple designs such as our CCTV In Operation Security Sign can be used in many varied commercial scenarios. To provide additional information, we also stock our This Organisation Operates 24 Hour CCTV Surveillance Security Signs with slots for adding in the purpose and name of contact.

We also stock a selection of more detailed and varied colour signs to fit the needs of your environment. These extend from our Red and White Closed Circuit Security Sign through to our Landscape 24 Hour Closed Circuit Sign – all styled to suit the needs of commercial environments perfectly.

How can CCTV benefit my business?

There are many ways that closed circuit television can be beneficial to a business and it is important that you establish your purpose for having it. Some of the main reasons include:

  • To deter criminal activity – Signs warning of prosecution and identifying your high levels of security can significantly reduce the risk of theft and criminal activity in your business.
  • To help with prosecutions and prevent false claims – CCTV footage is hard evidence and vital to many criminal investigations.
  • To protect your employees – CCTV offers an extra level of protection and can deter aggressive behaviour between employees. In the event that individuals are working alone, it can also make them feel more secure.
  • To create a safe work environment – CCTV can encourage employees to abide by health and safety requirements and can be used during emergency situations.
  • To monitor your premises at all times – Modern recording footage can now be viewed on mobile phones and tablets meaning it is easy to keep track of activity, even when you’re not there.

CCTV equipment has been proven to provide significant benefits to businesses of all different sizes. When used appropriately and according to current legislation, it is a vital addition to the security of your work environment. Here at Lasting Impressions, we pride ourselves in offering a comprehensive and vast range of CCTV signs to fit your needs. In doing so, we hope to help you stay in line with the law, informing workers, visitors and guests alike as to the presence of recording equipment.

If you have any questions about our range of CCTV signs or the use of CCTV footage in your business, get in touch with us here today. Our friendly and experienced sales staff are on hand to help with every enquiry.