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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 15 Jan 2019 | 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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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
I have a neighbour with cctv that is aimed at the entrance of both the front and back of the gated area that allows access to our properties. Is this legal? It also points directly to the front of my property. Surely it should only be used to survey his own home. It is being used to intimidate me, and this 'neighbour' suddenly appears each time I leave my home.
Kaz - 10-Jan-19 @ 9:21 PM
The best counter to a camera is a security light with the oldest style bulb you can get to create a bulb of light that blocks the cameras picture.
John3 - 23-Dec-18 @ 4:13 PM
Hi, I have a fix camera facing on my drive only, unfortunately thou with most cctv cameras they have wide angle lens, which obviously catches the background of neighbouring properties, this is the case will all cameras, it records only on motion detection max 60 seconds or live feed if they abusing or swearing at me for evidence which is now backfiring on me. my neighbours are complaining to police over my cctv camera as wide lens, this is catching them behaving in anti-social manor, (w) signs at me, parking over my drive, shouting abuse, I showed this to the police, The Police are now saying I can be arrested as whilst camera is fixed on my drive and doesn’t move at all, it’s still catching surrounding areas of my neighbours properties and i’m breaking the law? crazy hey? am I breaking the law, the police think anti-social behaviour from neighbours is acceptable!!! and if I press charges for there anti-social behaviour, they will arrest me for cctv harassment and recording them live when they are committing crimes of anti-social behaviour!!! laugh-able joke but true, so can you clear these facts up for me please, as the police are now siding with criminals breaking the law. (((I am being seriously hounded by two neighbours and I feel so depressed))) I now been told to take the CCTV down I have refused and said if they want me too then they have to get a court order, shall I take it down or am I in the right here !! apparently i’m breaching there privacy when they causing anti-social behaviour towards me, my ring camera is pointed at my drive only... and not directly at there property other than my own, it’s not my fault if they causing trouble in the street. (South Wales Police for you, siding with criminals) Makes me angry as they the POLICE are the first to knock my door if any crime happened in the street!! double standards hey. can you clear above points up so that i can make sure i’m not breaking any laws.
Das - 9-Dec-18 @ 6:38 PM
We are 11 private flats ( Shared freeholders ) , we have a management Co. in place ,and we have recently upgraded our cctv too freeview , there are two directors myself included, there are three cameras all within our courtyard where we park our cars ,we have been told by the management that the directors have too send a letter too all flat owners too record the footage plus have the images on our tv if we want to, is this correct ,also if we need to view the footage if an incident occurs can we view it ourselves or do we have toogo too the cctv Co. that installed the system.Thanks.Tommy
Tommy - 7-Nov-18 @ 2:21 PM
For Skip, you need to be aware of this: No offended neighbour has the automatic legal right to perceivably force a neighbour to take down a CCTV camera etc. if you check with your local police constabulary they will show you a copy of the rules and regulations that clearly states any home owner or occupier is lawfully entitled to install their own security CCTV system to protect themselves and their property. Only UNDER EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD ANYONE BE FORCED BY A COURTOF LAW? TO REMOVE THEIR CCTV CAMERA. The police treat these issues mainly as a "CIVIL MATTER", this means the police can raise an incident number and provide evidence to a court of law, however you will have to put your hand in your own pocket or bank account and pay for your own legal proceedings in a court of law. WARNING be advised that as the law currently stands you are lawfully entitled to install your own CCTV system, the judge will most likely remind you that at the court hearing, thus under current laws you are very highly likely to lose your court case, this means the neighbour you have taken to court has the legal right to COUNTER SUE YOU (issue to costs) for costs, damages and compensation for wrongly forcing them to appear at court, so a simple application to court with or without a solicitor costing up to £300 could in fact cost you £600 - £700 if you fail to win your case. If the court orders you to pay your wrongly accused neighbour their issue to costs and you fail to comply with that court order and pay your neighbour. Your neighbour can pay £60 to the court and enforce that charging order, this means just like on TV that two big burly men like bouncers will turn up on your door step and demand full payment with extra added fees and interests, thus it could easily escalate to £1,500. Being high court bailiffs with a live writ they can remover your car from your driveway and contents from inside your house whether you like it or not, and if you call the police they will only attend to keep the peace, the police cannot lawfully stop the high court bailiffs from removing your property to be sold off at auction. There is however circumstances where local public authorities like your local council can automatically go to court and have your camera removed for anti-social behaviour in collaboration with the police! Such an example would be a private CCTV camera overlooking the local council owned school and playground, thus the parents concerns raised to the school headmaster and the local council authority. Basically it is all self explanatory if you think about it, but in short no disgruntled neighbour has the automatic lawful right to have another neighbours CCTV camera removed.
Saint John - 30-Oct-18 @ 12:52 PM
Can I use a CCTV camera to look at the church opposite my house as they are constantly being broken in to?
dave - 30-Oct-18 @ 9:25 AM
Hi, I have a fix camera facing on my drive only, unfortunately thou with most cctv cameras they have wide angle lens, which obviously catches the background of neighbouring properties, this is the case will all cameras, it records only on motion detection max 60 seconds or live feed if they abusing or swearing at me for evidence which is now backfiring on me. my neighbours are complaining to police over my cctv camera as wide lens, this is catching them behaving in anti-social manor, (w) signs at me, parking over my drive, shouting abuse, I showed this to the police, The Police are now saying I can be arrested as whilst camera is fixed on my drive and doesn’t move at all, it’s still catching surrounding areas of my neighbours properties and i’m breaking the law? crazy hey? am I breaking the law, the police think anti-social behaviour from neighbours is acceptable!!! and if I press charges for there anti-social behaviour, they will arrest me for cctv harassment and recording them live when they are committing crimes of anti-social behaviour!!! laugh-able joke but true, so can you clear these facts up for me please, as the police are now siding with criminals breaking the law. (((I am being seriously hounded by two neighbours and I feel so depressed))) I now been told to take the CCTV down I have refused and said if they want me too then they have to get a court order, shall I take it down or am I in the right here !! apparently i’m breaching there privacy when they causing anti-social behaviour towards me, my ring camera is pointed at my drive only... and not directly at there property other than my own, it’s not my fault if they causing trouble in the street. (South Wales Police for you, siding with criminals) Makes me angry as they the POLICE are the first to knock my door if any crime happened in the street!! double standards hey. can you clear above points up so that i can make sure i’m not breaking any laws.
francescascottow - 31-Aug-18 @ 8:58 PM
Hi, I have a fix camera facing on my drive only, unfortunately thou with most cctv cameras they have wide angle lens, which obviously catches the background of neighbours property, it records only on motion max 60 seconds. also my neighbours are complaining to police over my cctv camera as wide lens, is catching behaving in anti-social manor, w signs at me, parking over my drive, shouting abuse, I showed this to police, The Police are now saying I can be arrested as whilst camera is fixed on my drive and doesn’t move at all, it’s still catching surrounding areas of my neighbours and i’m breaking the law? crazy hey, the police think ASBO from neighbours is acceptable and if I press charges for there anti-social behaviour, they arrest me for cctv harassment!!! laughable can you clear these facts up for me please. I am being seriously hounded by two neighbours and I feel so depressed that I now been told to take the CCTV down !! as i’m also breaching there privacy, camera is pointed at my drive only not directly at there property, it’s not my fault if they causing trouble in the street. (South Wales Police for you)
frankiescottow - 31-Aug-18 @ 8:40 PM
Please could someone tell me firstly how I go about finding out if my neighbour's cctv are actually real and not dummies. Secondly they have them all around their house, front, back and side of house. Thirdly they are all pointing in my direction, in my garden and and down the side of my property. They don't appear to be angled and looking at anyone else's property or in their own garden etc. I'm detached and they are semi detached. How can I find out if they are watching me. It seems strange they have so many. I don't get on with my neighbour's. They try threatening behaviour etc. Further more, which makes me think that they are watching, on monitor,is whenever I go out in my garden, which isn't very often, only to hang washing out, they always either seem to go out in their garden seconds later, or open their back door and encourage their happy dog to bark or are up at the bedroom window behind the blinds spying on me. I'm fed up of being watched. I'm fed up of having no privacy. I'm fed up of them seeing what shopping I take out of my car. They are not approachable. It's mother and son. And the mother encourages the son, who has mental health issues to be intimidating and threatening.
Baldy - 17-Aug-18 @ 12:55 PM
Please could someone tell me firstly how I go about finding out if my neighbour's cctv are actually real and not dummies. Secondly they have them all around their house, front, back and side of house. Thirdly they are all pointing in my direction, in my garden and and down the side of my property. They don't appear to be angled and looking at anyone else's property or in their own garden etc. I'm detached and they are semi detached. How can I find out if they are watching me. It seems strange they have so many. I don't get on with my neighbour's. They try threatening behaviour etc. Further more, which makes me think that they are watching, is whenever I go out in my garden, which isn't very often, only to hang washing, they always either seem to go out in their garden, open their back door and encourage their happy dog to bark or are up at the bedroom window behind the blinds spying on me. I'm fed up of being watched. I'm fed up
Baldy - 17-Aug-18 @ 12:52 PM
Hi my neighbour has has cctv camera pointing towards my back garden and has a microphone too in his bedroom to listen in. Can I do anything about it? I've spoke to him but he refused to change the position. Is it worth contacting my solicitors?
shaz - 16-Jul-18 @ 12:55 PM
My partner and two children live in a mid terraced house. At the end of her terrace lives a particular nasty neighbour who's property is positioned on an access alleyway to the rear of all properties both sides of the alley. This neighbour has cctv cameras to the front, side and rear of his property! His cameras are not only directed into his back garden but also the public alleyway and into his neighbours back garden the other side of the side alley. He has never sought approval from his neighbours nor displays any signage that he has cctv cameras in use! He also has some suspicious looking 'heads/busts' (which we are convinced have got small cameras set in the eyes of these heads) positioned in opposite corners in his back bedroom window, one facing into his neighbours back garden on the side alley plus the other facing into my partners back garden(two doors down) What action can we take against this and who should we contact? Regards John2
John 2 - 15-Jul-18 @ 8:19 PM
A CJEU ruling from 2014 would suggest that home CCTV may not be entirely legal/free from Data Protection Act/GDPR Scrutiny. Case C-212/13 Ryneš v. Úrad pro ochranuosobníchúdaju. "To the extent that video surveillance such as that at issue in the main proceedings covers, even partially, a public space and is accordingly directed outwards from the private setting of the person processing the data in that manner, it cannot be regarded as an activity which is a purely ‘personal or household’ activity for the purposes of the second indent of Article 3(2) of Directive 95/46.’ [para 33]" With the DPA1998 now replaced by GDPR/DPA2018 it would pay to double check whether or not a "home" CCTV system meets the ICO recommended standardsand is installed in a compliant manner with the DPA 2018.
JohnnyB - 11-Jul-18 @ 2:24 PM
Hi is it legal for my neighbour to have microphones fitted in her back garden to listen to people
Dawn - 8-Jul-18 @ 6:39 PM
Skip - Your Question:
My neighbour has installed cctv to side of house in a shared ally and I address this as really unnecessary as he has installed more than one camera to front and back of house, what action can I take as my partner child and my other neighbours use these quiet often and hasnt even ask if he can install them down there just gone ahead and put them up. Actions I can take please?

Our Response:
As the article says "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."
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Jul-18 @ 11:42 AM
My neighbour has installed cctv to side of house in a shared ally and i address this as really unnecessary as he has installed more than one camera to front and back of house, what action can i take as my partner child and my other neighbours use these quiet often and hasnt even ask if he can install them down there just gone ahead and put them up. Actions i can take please?
Skip - 28-Jun-18 @ 12:37 PM
sleepflower - Your Question:
The Human Rights Act is only applies to breaches by public authorities (such as local council). You cannot take an individual to court or the police for breaching your right to privacy. According to Citizen's Advice:"Only public authorities have obligations under the Human Rights Act. You can’t take action against other people or private organisations because they’ve breached your human rights. But if you take court action against someone for some other reason - for example, a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer, the courts can look at whether your human rights have also been breached. This is because courts are also public authorities and they must take account of human rights in all cases they hear."

Our Response:
Natural persons can bring a claim for misuse of private information against private bodies or individuals before the courts of England and Wales
ProblemNeighbours - 25-Jun-18 @ 12:14 PM
The Human Rights Act is only applies to breaches by public authorities (such as local council). You cannot take an individual to court or the police for breaching your right to privacy. According to Citizen's Advice: "Only public authorities have obligations under the Human Rights Act. You can’t take action against other people or private organisations because they’ve breached your human rights. But if you take court action against someone for some other reason - for example, a claim for unfair dismissal against your employer, the courts can look at whether your human rights have also been breached. This is because courts are also public authorities and they must take account of human rights in all cases they hear."
sleepflower - 22-Jun-18 @ 12:01 PM
Hi have neighbours and they have cctv I also have cctv mine does not intrude or look on neighbours property though they are aware of it and notices can be seen however my neighbours camera looks straight on to my back garden and is quite intimating I have spoketo them asked for it to be moved 4 weeks ago still has not been done now to take things further what or who do I need to go to to take further action
Sally - 17-Jun-18 @ 5:29 PM
Hi all anyone know where I stand in regards to my housing association having a CCTV camera pointed directly at my front door and looking into my living room window??
CaldmoreAccordProble - 14-Jun-18 @ 12:24 PM
Hannah- Your Question:
I’m just wondering if I have anyway of checking cctv camera, as my two dogs has sadly died in a hit and run but wanting too know what rights do I have too check cctv cameras?

Our Response:
If CCTV cameras are in place in a public area, they are normally controlled by your local council, or shopping centre owner etc. At the very least, the council will know who can or can't access footage for you.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Jun-18 @ 11:55 AM
I’m just wondering if I have anyway of checking cctv camera, as my two dogs has sadly died in a hit and run but wanting too know what rights do I have too check cctv cameras?
Hannah - 4-Jun-18 @ 12:39 PM
Hi, looking for advice regards using an app on my iPhone or a cctv camera to keep an eye on my car whilst parked at the side of my house in a residents carpark! There is a high risk of damage to my car from troublesome neighbours, would this fall into the category of not filming in public places unless I can prove there is a need too?
Alig - 3-Jun-18 @ 8:53 PM
Steve - Your Question:
Hi we are having Asbo issues with a neighbor who has only moved in over a year ago we have lived in property for over ten years with no complaints from any other neighbours the new neighbour has installed a hidden cctv with audio record I was informed by a friend who my neighbour told not realising it was s good friend of mine iv located the camera and it’s in a porch light it over looks our side of communal garden and our gate she has a area in front of her house that it doesn’t cover I complained to council and they said she was given permission there is no warning there is cctv monitoring video and audio and they said it’s allowed please someone give advice

Our Response:
If the garden is communal, how can the CCTV be focused on your garden?
ProblemNeighbours - 1-Jun-18 @ 3:13 PM
forgot to mention im asking for advice as to if i can use CCTV in a way to prove that all these car owners are causing unwanted and unneeded issues without getting into trouble myself?? or if someone has any other ideas that may help? Tnx
EP1886 - 31-May-18 @ 4:24 PM
im having huge issues with my estates car park, i have tried everything i can think of and dont know what else to do. i have spoken with the relevant car owners with no success so i tried speaking with my housing association as its their car park with no action taken by them either. Its a residents parking only car park which i had been told by my HA previously that it was first come first served and that the carpark is NOT to be used by WORK or COMMERCIAL vehicles we have so many company vans parking at stupid angles meaning that they take up 4/5 spaces each and every time they park they also park across the ONLY drop kerb in the street leaving me having to go right out of the street to get out sometimes ( im a disabled wheelchair user ). Please Help
EP1886 - 31-May-18 @ 4:19 PM
Hi we are having Asbo issues with a neighbor who has only moved in over a year ago we have lived in property for over ten years with no complaints from any other neighbours the new neighbour has installed a hidden cctv with audio record I was informed by a friend who my neighbour told not realising it was s good friend of mine iv located the camera and it’s in a porch light it over looks our side of communal garden and our gate she has a area in front of her house that it doesn’t cover I complained to council and they said she was given permission there is no warning there is cctv monitoring video and audio and they said it’s allowed please someone give advice
Steve - 31-May-18 @ 12:25 PM
Thanks your comment Pete. I am neither paranoid nor delusional.I already have CCTV installed on my property and it does the job perfectly it is setup to deter burglars or damage to the “property” and to be honest it just sits there in the background I’ve no need to be sat watching what’s going on but should I ever then it’s safe to say the footage can be used and for my neighbours too if their property if broken into. When the Homewatch team send an email and an update on their social media with the plans to have CCTV installed deliberately to point towards the entrance of the street so they can monitor the incoming and outgoing of the street not to protect the property then this is where residents are challenging the decision as this is not being installed for the original purpose to deter crime against the property. It’s not effective use of CCTV as it will not prove if a crime has occurred down the other end of the street.Local policeman is saying it will need to have signs up saying there are cameras up that will have a knock on effect to house prices and a number of other reasons.So that’s why the post was uploaded, it’s not about being paranoid.
Manchester - 26-May-18 @ 9:38 AM
Manchester the cameras will be there to protect the owner of the cameras property not for the use of other tenants, so I’m afraid it’s irrelevant whether they film cars on the opposite side of the street or not. If you are on good terms with the tenant maybe you could ask if they could check the CCTV god forbid should something happen to your property. Also, what makes you think people are installing CCTV to spy on you? You seem very paranoid and bordering on delusional. If something happens to your property surely you would like there to be CCTV in the event it may aid any investigation of any crime committed against you.
Pete - 25-May-18 @ 11:35 PM
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