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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 13 Jan 2020 | comments*Discuss
Cctv The Law Data Protection Act Cctv

Wherever we go about our daily business in the UK these days, it appears that we will never be too far away from being captured on CCTV. For most law abiding citizens, this rarely presents a problem. We have come to recognise CCTV as almost part and parcel of our daily lives.

Many people welcome CCTV on the streets of our towns and cities in the fight against crime. It can also help to secure the convictions of criminals who might have otherwise been able to go about their business and remain undetected.

The Laws Relating to CCTV

The main laws governing the installation and use of CCTV is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998, but this only applies to businesses and organisations and NOT to domestic property. It’s crucial that people recognise that distinction. If you’re concerned about a company’s use of CCTV, that’s a matter for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to deal with under the statutes that have been laid out under the Data Protection Act.

Is it Legal?

Yes, it is perfectly legal as long as due care is taken. Most people who choose to install CCTV at home do so primarily to deter would-be intruders from trespassing onto or breaking into their homes, and this is completely legitimate.

You cannot stop your neightbour from installing a CCTV system or from operating any kind of video recording device, such as a camcorder. For example, Using CCTV At Home can often help police secure a conviction for crimes that have been committed, such as a theft of a car parked outside your home or to identify individuals who are engaging in Anti-Social Behaviour.

That said, in such cases, the CCTV system you might have at home is more likely to act as a deterrent. This is simply because in a residential area would-be criminals are likely to be far more aware of residential CCTV installations, and so are more likely to avoid doing anything which might contravene the law.

In cases of people who are able to provide video evidence of crimes or acts of anti-social behaviour being committed outside their own homes, that will usually come about as a result of some covert filming using a camcorder or digital camera.

When you could be Breaking the Law for Having CCTV at Home

While home installation of CCTV does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Data Protection Act, if the home installation has not been carried out correctly or is being used for a purpose other than for which it was designed, then you may have a case for taking further action under totally different laws.

For example, if you have a camera which is pointed directly at another person’s property or it’s suspected that it can capture part or all of a neighbour’s property, they might have a case to take action against you under legislation covered by the Human Rights Act. They might have sufficient grounds to say that they have had their privacy violated, that your CCTV system is tantamount to harassment and even voyeurism.

In such cases, they can get the police involved if you're not able to come to some agreement with regards to what the camera(s) can capture and to make modifications to the installation, if necessary.

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My neighbour directly next door videos from her phone my children outside the front as well as any visitors that come and go from my home. When asked about it she denies it. I’m at the end of my tether and reported to police but her mental health allows her to get away with this. I don’t get why.
Em - 13-Jan-20 @ 12:15 PM
My neighbour has cctv installed at side of his house. He watches us go in and out of our house all day and night making us feel uneasy when passing. He then comes knocking every so often accusing me of doing something to his property or his cars. Sometimes he is aggressive. Can I get the authorities to remove his cctv cameras?
Not happy - 4-Jan-20 @ 11:28 PM
Hi! My landlord want to instal Cctv around the house that I leave. I am more concern about from the garden where me and my family we use to stay in summer (in swimsuit) I don’t like the idea to someone can watch me online anytime and check what and when I am doing!! Thanks
Rob - 18-Dec-19 @ 5:37 PM
Hello, I do have a neighborhood, who has a dome CCTV for many years since I moved there. However there have been some stuff that have happened and I'm sure, he looks at other neighbors. Dome CCTV view are wide and can access other properties and people, this type of CCTV are the one used by businesses especially retail. I don,t know what to do here, help please.
FreedomToLive - 26-Nov-19 @ 1:01 PM
My girlfriend has noticed a cctv in her shop. This is surly invading in one's privacy? It most likely that they can also listen to audio in the shop? What can I do about it?
Keeping It Real - 25-Nov-19 @ 1:33 PM
My local council has recently installed 2 dome cameras on a lampost outside my property. They are able to directly look into my 1st floor bedroom and record images. I have written to the Local authority, on more than one occasion,requesting the removal or repositioning of the cameras. They have so far failed to take any action. This is upsetting my wife who will not open the bedroom blinds for fear of being filmed. Surely, the councils actions must be illegal. Council employees could be actingas peeping toms. Are there legal steps to get something done about removing/repositioning these blasted cameras.
council peeping toms - 24-Nov-19 @ 1:55 AM
I have just received a letter from my housing association regarding my cctv and it looks like my neighbour has reported me for my cctv intruding on their privacy. I have signs up on my house and the system has been there for 5 years. He has seen these cameras since he moved in over 4 years ago and now. he is throwing a tantrum over something silly. What his problem as the cameras are only guarding my car and the access to my home and not even looking into his garden or home
Top cat - 23-Nov-19 @ 4:01 PM
I live in a three story multi occupant house is it illegal for the person on the third floor to have CCTV cameras pointing down into the garden does this violate my privacy
Johno - 15-Nov-19 @ 6:26 AM
I live in a multi occupant house which is three stories the person on the top floor has 2CCTV cameraspointing down into the back gardens which she is using the data to complain about me feedingfoxes that aside I am now not going out into the garden because I don't want to be on her camera andFriends of mine that come round also do not want to go into the gardenam I entitled to see what she is recording thank you
Goat - 15-Nov-19 @ 5:47 AM
I have just found out that my daughter's old primary school is being investigated by the police after hidden camera's were found in the children's toilets and were installed in 2014 when my daughter attended. Can I take legal action against the school?
Mummybear - 31-Oct-19 @ 10:16 AM
Hi The management company to my apartment block has installed a CCTV camera with sound in the communal reception area. Should they have a GDPR policy in place and if so should it be available to owners of apartments. The management company are using the CCTV to monitor who is visiting the apartment blocks and attending meetings in the communal meeting room. Also employees of the Management company are accessing the information put simply watching it on an evening as a person would watch a TV for no purpose other than to access knowledge of who is visiting the apartments for social purposes.
Annoyed2019 - 24-Sep-19 @ 8:43 PM
Can you you define for me what capture an image means, my camera does not record so how do I comply with the ICO and DPA. The camera is wireless and viewed over a mobile phone, it has no audio and to record images you must take it apart to insert a memory card, which I don't want to do. It is used when we are not at home to see that all is well on the property. The property holds multiple cars and bikes. It is a dome type that can pan 360° it does sweep part of the pavement and some of the neighbours garden, is it permissible to paint out that part of the cover to obscure the view into those regions thereby making my camera exempt from the DPA. I draw your attention to this excerpt from section 3 of the code; The use of surveillance systems for limited household purposes is exempt from the DPA. This applies where an individual uses a surveillance system to protect their home from burglary, even if the system overlooks the street or other areas near their home. Information captured for recreational purposes, such as with a mobile phone, digital camera or camcorder, are also exempt.
Chunk - 11-Sep-19 @ 8:27 AM
We have allocated parking at the back of my house . Next to me my nieghbours have their large caravan and huge jeep which they have bollards around! Last week they accused my workman of denting their van as said they had it on cctv from their OTHER,car across the way !this would be pointing straight across ! They were reluctant to show the footage! Are they legally to do this and make false accusations? Have the camara positioned to watch across the way?
Mum - 24-Aug-19 @ 8:34 AM
A garage opposite me as had new cctv installed by a doggy bloke I know that it is looking into my bedroom window because at night I can see the red light on them is there anything I can do to stop him watching my property??
Rollsy - 15-Jul-19 @ 9:43 AM
Hello. We have a couple of strange neighbours who we believe are pointing cameras front and back of their property, capturing passersby. They admitted to doing this during an altercation with someone else. Concerned about why they would do this and moreover how they are storing the data, we notified the police. The police advised that whilst they could not tell us whether or not these people were using CCTV, the individuals concerned had not broken any law. They would need to put signage up alerting to the use if CCTV, and there are none. My question therefore is this; If they are infact not using static wired- in cameras, but video camcorders instead, are these devices exempt from CCTV and GDPR please? We see red lights flashing and are still convinced that something is recording us. Thank you
Yelnut - 7-Jul-19 @ 5:03 PM
My neighbour has two dome cameras fixed onto the side of her property, one faced directly into my front garden and one faced directly into my back garden. Because they are domes I have no way of knowing where the cameras are pointed at any time except for if i were to ask for her footage around the clock. The cameras are not sign posted. How can I really safeguard my privacy in this situation?
K - 5-Jul-19 @ 5:56 PM
Hi can anyone tell me if our social landlord as broke the DPA ? a neighbour had CCTV installed due to DV by our joint social landlord. She suffer issues and has trained the CCTV on our drive and property moves it off and on the house. For no reason moves it with a stick .. she broke a window on our house and when the Sd card was taken out thete were thousands of images of me my kids in our garden and house. Our landlord knew she moved the CCTV but did little to prevent her moving it after they had reset it... I did not know initially it eas landlords CCTV .. as there was no signage ... It is not a private installation as it is ownedy a large social landlord ... so DPA applies Now moved looking to take this TO THE ICO ... Thank you .
Apollo14LMP - 19-Jun-19 @ 3:09 PM
My neighbor wants to put CCTV on a wall in my front garden,the other side of the wall is her living room. But the light and camera will be pointing at my garden, and the light will be shining into my bedroom. She also wants me to remove hanging baskets and memorial plaques so she can put the security system up. The outside wall is in my garden and to put up the system it means coming to my garden to do it. Can she do this or not? I think it's a privacy issue.
MsFitt - 5-Jun-19 @ 9:52 PM
Hi all After some advice, my car keeps being vandalised, keyed, thrown rocks, damage to my windscreen etc. All at a cost to me. My question is am I legally allowed to install a camera so it looks out of my window and onto my car, I am the only person that uses that parking space and I am willing to let all of my neighbours know why and where it is placed (I live in a block of maisonettes) and the camera would view the pavement as well as my car. Thanks in advance
Carguy2018 - 22-May-19 @ 10:19 PM
am i legally obligedto hand over my cctv images from myhome cctv, a neighbour had her car vandalised and wants me to check my system, i have refused as we have a lot of problems with these people, i normally let my system overwrite after 30 days but thinking of forcing the delete early
cctv owner - 18-May-19 @ 10:52 PM
Here is the answer to all your questions on this site: If you are capturing images beyond your property boundary, you should have a clear and justifiable reason for doing so. In particular, you will need to think why you need these images. If asked by an individual or the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), you will need to be able to explain your reasons, so you should write them down now. You should also write down why you think capturing the images is more important than invading the privacy of your neighbours and passers-by. You will also need to: Let people know you are using CCTV by putting up signs saying that recording is taking place, and why. Ensure you don’t capture more footage than you need to achieve your purpose in using the system. Ensure the security of the footage you capture – in other words, holding it securely and making sure nobody can watch it without good reason. Only keep the footage for as long as you need it – delete it regularly, and when it is no longer needed. Ensure the CCTV system is only operated in ways you intend and can’t be misused for other reasons. Anyone you share your property with, such as family members who could use the equipment, needs to know the importance of not misusing it. You also need to make sure you respect the data protection rights (Data Protection Act 2018) of the people whose images you capture. This includes the following things: Responding to subject access requests (SARs), if you receive any. Individuals have a right to access the personal data you hold about them, including identifiable images. They can ask you verbally or in writing. You must respond within one month and give them a copy of the data. Deleting footage of people if they ask you to do so. You should do this within one month. You can refuse to delete it if you specifically need to keep it for a genuine legal dispute – in which case you need to tell them this, and also tell them they can challenge this in court or complain to the ICO. Consider any objection you get now from particular people about capturing their image in the future. Given the nature of CCTV systems, this may be very difficult to do. However, you should again think whether you need to record images beyond your property boundary – particularly if your system is capturing images from a neighbour’s home or garden. If you fail to comply with your obligations under the data protection laws, you may be subject to enforcement action by the ICO. This could include a fine. You may also be subject to legal action by affected individuals, who could pursue court claims for compensation. If you follow our guidance and take all reasonable steps to comply with your data protection obligations, the ICO is unlikely to regard you as a regulatory risk. So the ICO would be unlikely to think that taking enforcement action against you was a proportionate use of its resources. Before you install the system, consider speaking to your neighbours and exp
Alina Brunetti - 8-May-19 @ 11:22 AM
Hi I'm a 16 year old boy and my mum has installed CCTV all in the downstairs area. I feel unconfortable with this and I was wondering if I have any right to say for the cameras to be taken down. There is no signs on the walls saying "CCTV in progress" and I don't really like the feeling of being watched. Is there any legal action as a 16 year old male which I can carry out?
Seanio - 8-May-19 @ 10:30 AM
We have a neighbour (homeowner) who has 4 cameras all round his house, with 2 at the front. We believe he is using these cameras to spy because he seems to be able to see things on the street that are beyond his own drive. We have told the housing association about this, but I told them that if the owner knows they they are going to visit him, he can turn the cameras back to their original position. How are they going to monitor/police this kind of behaviour and what can we do about it?
Alina Brunetti - 8-May-19 @ 10:27 AM
Hi. My neighbour has just installed cctv. I’ve been told they are audio recording our conversations. Is this allowed
Flo - 2-May-19 @ 12:30 PM
A neighbour has a box from which he sells baked goods, supposedly to raise funds for the Church. Recently he had goods "stolen" and so he has rigged up two cameras on each side of the box. However, one faces away from the front of the box down our road. Why it points this way I do not know but could we complain under violation of privacy?
BBH - 28-Apr-19 @ 10:30 PM
My neighbour has put 2 new cameras up on the back of his house 1 can see direct into my daughter's bedroom and the other could see my bathroom window he has 4 cameras in total in the back of his house (why) what do i do i have not long moved in and dont want to fall out with anyone but i feel trapped dont want my kids playing in back garden due to there that many strange ppl out there i don't no what to do
Kaza - 27-Apr-19 @ 12:02 AM
Hi my next door have put a cctv camra in there bedroom window which faces a public path and a buzzy car park they have no signs to state they have cctv and I've been around and ask them to point it on to there property and got told no the car park which i use and my children walk past the public path it faces on it records my children coming and going my comings and goings and I really do not appreciate my 2 kids who are both under 16 and myself being recorded on our every move my daughter has autisum and adhd and has learning dificulties the next door no this but I just got told to go away what can I do plz
Boo - 12-Apr-19 @ 9:42 PM
Hi, i live an apartment complex that allows pets which i am fine with its just that the people across from me have let there dog use the bathroom in the planter underneath our window and never cleans it up do to this we got a camera and put in our window, which everyone can see it is there, because of this they stopped letting their dogs use it under our window but we have faced backlash from our neighbours by them flipping off the camera and yelling at the top of their lungs saying we have a camera. We only got the camera to find out who was letting their dogs poop underneath our window so that we can show the landlords and we have left the camera up there since because the landlord said it was fine. But now i think our neighbors are taking legal action because we are recording, to keep in mind they live across from me and so the camera is point at our planter and the front of their apartment which is where they let their dogs go the bathroom and don't pick it up. Our landlord put up signs saying to pick up after your pets but they still don't do it, so it smells horrible outside. I was wondering if they do a civil lawsuit against us will we have to take the camera down and will it be against us?
Dez - 27-Mar-19 @ 9:37 PM
My council who is also my Landlord has a round dome CCTV surveillance camera situated in the carpark next to my garden, therefore it can film the whole of my back garden, and I have to have my blinds closed in my living room and kitchen, I'm sure this must be a violation of my humans rights under article 8, I cannot go out of my garden or stand at the window without feeling watched, I cannot sit out in my garden with family without us all feeling like we are being spied on. When I formally complained to the council they refused to remove it. This also must be a waste of a camera for them since legally they are only permitted to film the car park but currently have a 360 degree viewing camera that spies on my family, friends and Iin the privacy of my home and garden. Is this legal?
Titch - 25-Jan-19 @ 12:05 AM
Recently my Housing Association informed all the tenants in a block of ten flats that as a consequence of anti social behaviour they were going to install cctv. They informed all the residents in the block of ten flats (everyone knows everyone else) by delivering a letter by hand under everyolne's door. The cctv was installed the next day and i persnally have seen it largely as a benefit. There are two cameras,one outside the front door and the other inside on the ground floor hallway. I was sited as one of the people displaying anti social behaviour by a neighbour so what this has done for me is show the HA that there are no anti social behaviours coming from my flat... neither from myself or any of my guests. Behaviours that are considered to be anti social aren't usually able to be amended very much within a short period of time certainly not curtailed to be non existent within 24 hours! So the cctv has been my vindicator! However I don't feel the same about the covert cctv camera that was also installed at the same time. If I weren't so aware of my own surrounding's I would not have seen it. It's inside a voltage warning box right outside my front door on the landing. It's the only one hidden camera and it's on the second floor outside my home. I know other people have been sited as being anti social as it was I that made the complaint, so why is there only a camera outside my flat? I've told my next door neighbour as she is under the cameras gaze along with myself. We both feel violated. It's one thing to filmsomeone with their consent but to do it inside their own home a place of safety and security without their knowledge or permission can't be legal... it's certainly not ethical! It seems that integrity and common decency have been replaced by fear,paranoia,and the desire for control. Is this covert and unknown observation legal? Am I justified in feeling like I'm being singled out? Where can I find out what my rights are ?
Debs - 15-Jan-19 @ 7:02 PM
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