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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Jul 2018 | 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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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
Hi Sorry I would like to clarify the facts on the proposed CCTV installation on the street. Homewatch has teamed up with a resident who has a house that faces onto the entrance to the street.The resident proposes to install cctv and direct it at the entrance to the street so Homewatch can track the incoming and outgoing traffic into the street whether it be by foot or car. A number of residents have said signs will have to be put up around the streets advertising this and it could have an effect on house prices as nobody wants to feel like a prisoner being watched 24x7 and it also gives the impression there is crime happening all the time. The installation will also not give the required evidence that a car was involved with a crime at the other end of the street it would only give the police a lead, it neither proves or disproves anything. The fact the cameras are not being installed to protect the property / deter the house from being broken into sounds like Homewatch and the resident are trying to exploit residents (especially as they are asking for donations for the installation) What does the law say regarding this scenario... I don’t like the idea of walking dogs and being filmed and audio recorded to as some residents have suggest already exist on the street. I appreciate your guidance on the matter. Thank you.
Manchester - 25-May-18 @ 7:36 PM
My Homewatch last wishes to have cctv installed so it points to the entrance to the street so it can watch everyone coming in and leaving the street, a number of residents feel this is intrusive and illegal, can you confirm if they can install CCTV for this purpose, clearly it’s not solely to deter anyone entering the house but to spy on all the other neighbours.Any advice?
Manchester - 24-May-18 @ 11:11 PM
Unique- Your Question:
I live in a Victorian house 1st and 2nd floors. There is only one tenant underneath me on ground level. Whom has installed a motion detecting camera on his door that is cm’s away from mine. I have to walk pass it in over to Enter and leave my house. He has also installed a camera that faces me in the garden. The council has recognised that the tenant is in fact harrashing me and have told him to take down the cameras. But he refuses to. Who can help me. He has also registered the camera with the iso so the footage and pictures of myself and friends and family can be made public. Who can unforce it to get him to remove camera ????Distressed single mum

Our Response:
Complain to the ICO about the use of the footage. Legal action in relation to your privacy rights might be your next step.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-May-18 @ 2:22 PM
Hi Just want to get some more advice on this subject as the more I am reading the more in getting confused.. We live in a end terrace house, we park our cars in the same place day in and out. We have what we thought a council watched cctv installed at the end of the road but found out recently its never on and never caught anything or been able to be used. Weve recently had numerous cars in the street damaged on several occasions including two of ours. one person even grabbed a person who was caught kicking their windscreen and he was given a public order notice for grabbing a 17 year old who had smashed his windscreen but the police were more concerned about how this gentleman had grabbed the person rather than the damage. The police have said we can report any damage that happens but its ongoing. I want to install my own cctv system that over sees ur cars that are parked on the street. Can anyone help me legally where I stand with this one. Ive tried speaking to the ICO and our local police but they have said once ive installed it they will come view it to determine if im in any breach then take action.
MikeB - 23-May-18 @ 10:01 AM
I live in a Victorian house 1st and 2nd floors. There is only one tenant underneath me on ground level. Whom has installed a motion detecting camera on his door that is cm’s away from mine. I have to walk pass it in over to Enter and leave my house. He has also installed a camera that faces me in the garden. The council has recognised that the tenant is in fact harrashing me and have told him to take down the cameras. But he refuses to. Who can help me. He has also registered the camera with the iso so the footage and pictures of myself and friends and family can be made public. Who can unforce it to get him to remove camera ???? Distressed single mum
Unique - 21-May-18 @ 10:31 PM
Hoddy - Your Question:
My neighbour has put up cctv. Not a problem I have them myself.My issue is there cameras are remote controlled 360 and full tilt and pan. Is that permitted on domestic properties.

Our Response:
The cameras should not be focused on your property - if they are, contact your local community policing team and they will be able to take a look.
ProblemNeighbours - 18-May-18 @ 12:06 PM
My neighbour has put up cctv . Not a problem I have them myself .My issue is there cameras are remote controlled 360 and full tilt and pan . Is that permitted on domestic properties.
Hoddy - 17-May-18 @ 10:30 AM
Huggy - Your Question:
Hi I would like to know if it is legal for a neighbor to install cctv and record me and my wife and grandchildren in my back garden what is the law on this could some one let me know Thank you for your time on this

Our Response:
Together with the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights act mentioned in the above article, the Protection of Freedoms Act is also relevant legislation. Here is a link to more information
ProblemNeighbours - 14-May-18 @ 12:46 PM
Hi I would like to know if it is legal for a neighbor to install cctv and record me and my wife and grandchildren in my back garden what is the law on this could some one let me know Thank you for your time on this
Huggy - 13-May-18 @ 7:24 PM
Cat - Your Question:
Hi, I live in a flat in a privately owned block managed by a management company. Recently someone new has purchased one of the ground floor flats and they have put up a camera that shoots directly at the building front door rather than their front door (so films everyone coming in and out). Are they allowed to do this? Should they or the building management have told us it was happening before they put it up (I am not even sure the building management knows it's there)? While I don't think any of the residents would be doing anything wrong, it does feel a bit strange to be filmed and not know where / how that footage it being stored etc. Any help would be much appreciated. Tried to call the ICO, but after 40mins on hold I gave up. Many thanks.

Our Response:
Check with the building management company...they should be the ones erecting an CCTV in communal areas and should inform all other residents that it's there.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-May-18 @ 10:16 AM
Hi, I live in a flat in a privately owned block managed by a management company. Recently someone new has purchased one of the ground floor flats and they have put up a camera that shoots directly at the building front door rather than their front door (so films everyone coming in and out). Are they allowed to do this? Should they or the building management have told us it was happening before they put it up (I am not even sure the building management knows it's there)? While I don't think any of the residents would be doing anything wrong, it does feel a bit strange to be filmed and not know where / how that footage it being stored etc. Any help would be much appreciated. Tried to call the ICO, but after 40mins on hold I gave up. Many thanks.
Cat - 9-May-18 @ 4:06 PM
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