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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 25 Jun 2016 | 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 elderly neighbours clearly don't want to get on with me as they have never attempted to communicate with me for any reason..however theve complained to the council about people who visit my property and park Thier vehicle outside my house they seem to think this obstructs Thier drive way..theve installed a cctv camera over looking Thierry property wich is totally legal but theve also installed 1 round the back of the property but is clearly over looking my garden and back gate so they can see my comings and goings and I find this very frustrating is this legal for them to do this.
Rachyb - 25-Jun-16 @ 2:32 PM
Cswallow0425 - Your Question:
My kitchen over looks a car park that residents of the 8 flats where I live park and have access to. There is one resident who keeps scraping everyone's cars so I'd like to setup a camera from the kitchen looking onto the car park to actually capture it happening for insurance purposes. Ive been hit with a repair bill as I have no proof of this persons bad parking although we all know who's doing it. Do I need all residents permission to do this?

Our Response:
yes you'd need consent form the landowner/landlord.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Jun-16 @ 12:20 PM
I live in a block of flats and the man who lives above me has 2 camera's in his front room window and a couple of the neighbours and I have noticed that 1 camera moves, he says he has them to watch his car but the camera is not looking at his car,so do we have any rights about him using the camera and watching us come and go,
Aquamarine - 22-Jun-16 @ 10:28 PM
My kitchen over looks a car park that residents of the 8 flats where I live park and have access to.There is one resident who keeps scraping everyone's cars so I'd like to setup a camera from the kitchen looking onto the car park to actually capture it happening for insurance purposes.Ive been hit with a repair bill as I have no proof of this persons bad parking although we all know who's doing it. Do I need all residents permission to do this?
Cswallow0425 - 22-Jun-16 @ 11:09 AM
Psah - Your Question:
My neighbour has put cctv up and it's facing my garden and house r they aloud to do this coz where is my privacy

Our Response:
No, a person can only focus CCTV on their own property. Have a word with them and ask them to reposition the cameras. The police can have a look if you cannot resolve this yourselves.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Jun-16 @ 2:26 PM
My neighbour has put cctv up and it's facing my garden and house r they aloud to do this coz where is my privacy
Psah - 15-Jun-16 @ 2:50 PM
I live in a house converted into flats. I live in ground floor with the rear enclosed garden. The upstairs flat has no acces to the garden and there is no acces to there flat via the garden the garden is ours only. there windows are at at least 12ft high. They have a camera pointing into my garden where son goes. Not sure if they can see into my window. They have no reason to have a camera pointing in my garden there property isn't at risk from my garden there's no way into the back garden unless you have keys to the back lane which is private the camera is pointed downwards directly where our table and chairs are and where my son plays is this legal? What can I do? What would you do?
Jones - 14-Jun-16 @ 9:09 PM
My neighbour has installed cctv cameras around his property . One is pointing down toward our fenced back garden which we feel invades our privacy but the camera that covers a shared access road where our children play is my main concern. I know that he watches us on his camera because his son has come out and told us that he knew we were home as his daddy was" watching us on his telly" The camera is pointing away from his actual house and garden and does not focus on his garages, purely on a shared access road. Our children play out there often so this concerns me greatly. Communication has broken down between us and I do not feel we could safely confront him about this. I just feel we need reassurance that he cannot see into our garden and really want to know why the cameras are not facing his own property and find out why he wants to watch the communal area. He is not registered with the ICO and they have recommended that due to the fact children are involved,makes it a police matter. What are your thoughts? Who helps with these matters?
Adam - 10-Jun-16 @ 8:49 PM
WTCdave - Your Question:
My girlfriend is going through a divorce and her husband is refusing to leave the house. However hes decided to purchase a Spy cam built within an Alarm clock. The clock has been placed in the bedroom which he used but she uses during the day to get dresses and use the en-suite (she works evenings) her bed is downstairs but not enough room to move the wardrobes down aswell. Anyway she discovered the Spycam which is directed in front of the wardrobe where she gets changed. To say she is not happy is an understatement and the police had been informed. On arrival they said its his house aswell and has every right to install CCTV where he wants in his home. The only time he would be braking the law is if he was to share/distribute the images. She is also convinced other audio recording devices are hiding in the house. He even walks round with his phone recording her while talking to her sometimes. She feels like shes so trapped as she been told legally for the best outcome for the divorve she needs to stay in the house (Kids involved)

Our Response:
If this is a jointly owned home, she could consider a court order to make the ex husband leave on the basis of this behaviour.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Jun-16 @ 1:59 PM
My girlfriend is going through a divorce and her husband is refusing to leave the house. However hes decided to purchase a Spy cam built within an Alarm clock. The clock has been placed in the bedroom which he used but she uses during the day to get dresses and use the en-suite (she works evenings) her bed is downstairs but not enough room to move the wardrobes down aswell. Anyway she discovered the Spycam which is directed in front of the wardrobe where she gets changed. To say she is not happy is an understatement and the police had been informed. On arrival they said its his house aswell and has every right to install CCTV where he wants in his home. The only time he would be braking the law is if he was to share/distribute the images. She is also convinced other audio recording devices are hiding in the house. He even walks round with his phone recording her while talking to her sometimes. She feels like shes so trapped as she been told legally for the best outcome for the divorve she needs to stay in the house (Kids involved)
WTCdave - 7-Jun-16 @ 11:56 AM
Daniel - Your Question:
HiI'm living in to a sher house and my landlord installed cctv.2 outside (and I don't have nothing with this),one in to the kitchen and another one on the corridor. It is wright for the last 2?I read that it is possible only to business.Thank you.

Our Response:
If these are communal areas and you are aware of them, it's generally acceptable. If you have an issue, speak with your landlord.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-May-16 @ 12:19 PM
Hi I'm living in to a sher house and my landlord installed cctv.2 outside (and I don't have nothing with this),one in to the kitchen and another one on the corridor. It is wright for the last 2? I read that it is possible only to business. Thank you.
Daniel - 26-May-16 @ 12:27 PM
JO JO - Your Question:
My father passed away & we are in the throws of sorting his estate. I am one of 3 daughters of which non of us get on. The executor of the will is the solicitor. One of my sisters have deliberately installed a camera in order to check on me but would in fact claim that she has done this for security rather than to spy on me. However both my sisters are aware of this camera and I have not been informed! We all agreed with the solicitor that we were not going to put cameras on site. The solicitor has not been made aware of this camera either ! what right have a got under the data protection act since I feel that I have had my movements followed without being made aware of!!!!

Our Response:
It's not the data protection legislation but the privacy aspect of the human rights act. You need to sort this out between you, it's not clear whether it's your home/whether you're living there but we guess it's not, so if you're just visiting to sort out papers/belongings, this should not worry you.
ProblemNeighbours - 19-May-16 @ 9:32 AM
My father passed away & we are in the throws of sorting his estate. I am one of 3 daughters of which non of us get on. The executor of the will is the solicitor. One of my sisters have deliberately installed a camera in order to check on me but would in fact claim that she has done this for security rather than to spy on me. However both my sisters are aware of this camera and I have not been informed! We all agreed with the solicitor that we were not going to put cameras on site. The solicitor has not been made aware of this camera either ! what right have a got under the data protection act since I feel that I have had my movements followed without being made aware of!!!!
JO JO - 16-May-16 @ 7:19 PM
suzie - Your Question:
Hello.my neighbour has just installed a cctv to his house facing directly to my front door n windoes. they can view everything in my house. is it legal to install cctv facing others front door n windows. help

Our Response:
AS the article says If your neighbour has a camera which is pointed directly at your property or it’s suspected that it can capture part or all of your property, you might have a case to take action relating to the Human Rights Act if you have sufficient grounds to say that they your privacy has been violated, or that the CCTV system is tantamount to harassment and voyeurism. In such cases, you 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.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-May-16 @ 11:20 AM
Hello.my neighbour has just installed a cctv to his house facing directly to my front door n windoes. they can view everything in my house. is it legal to install cctv facing others front door n windows. help
suzie - 12-May-16 @ 8:47 AM
Cheryl - Your Question:
Hi. Would appreciate your advice etc. We have a troublesome family in our street that have caused ( fabricated ) problems for other residents. To protect ourselves we are having professionally-installed cctv system all around our property. My questions are ; If this family complain about anything regarding our cctv system ( i.e. camera angles, their privacy being intruded, etc. ) can the police insist upon just frogmarching into our home to check matters? Would this family have to provide proof? Would they have to state the date/ time that they wanted checking on our hard- drive and how much footage is reasonable to ask for?? I've also read somewhere that I can charge £10 ( maximum allowed by parliament ) for doing this. This may sound slightly o.t.t., but ( believe me ) this family WILL cause such hassle and I value MY privacy TOO. Even though we are law-abiding and would never do wrong, even the police these days fail to apply commonsense - and I don't want them bothering my family over fabricated lies. As I've said, I value MY privacy and right to a peaceful life TOO. Thanks.

Our Response:
The police can investigate if someone makes a complaint that their privacy is being infringed. You can only make a charge if the police want to actually use information from your CCTV footage.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-May-16 @ 10:27 AM
rt - Your Question:
Hi I am disabled and have CCTV in my home not pointing at any one I live in social housing and the landlord refuses to do repairs as long as there on I explained there for my safety in my own home. I repeat these are in doors and not pointing at neighbours or anyone else's property I have had them for years. there has been a number of people murdered or beaten in this area where I stay and I want to make sure I am safe and if anyone does do anything the police or my family can see who it was. my question is this illegal to have cameras in my home for my protection the only time a camera would capture anyone would be if the front door was open (camera films front door from inside property not outside) or when they entire my property there has been a notice in my hall way for years 6 to be exact and the landlord was fine with it and people have repaired stuff before now there getting difficult and saying there passing this to there legal team. I fail to see how I am breaking any law all cameras are in my home none film out side unless the doors open when they capture whos there.can any one please advise

Our Response:
Could you not just turn the cameras off while the workmen are in? If they would rather not be filmed there's not much you can do. If you owned the property, you could look around until you found workmen who didn't mind being filmed but as the landlord has to do the repairs you'll probably have to go along with his/her wishes.
ProblemNeighbours - 9-May-16 @ 11:49 AM
Hi. Would appreciate your advice etc. We have a troublesome family in our street that have caused ( fabricated ) problems for other residents. To protect ourselves we are having professionally-installed cctv system all around our property. My questions are ; If this family complain about anything regarding our cctv system ( i.e. camera angles, their privacy being intruded, etc. ) can the police insist upon just frogmarching into our home to check matters? Would this family have to provide proof? Would they have to state the date/ time that they wanted checking on our hard- drive and how much footage is reasonable to ask for?? I've also read somewhere that I can charge £10 ( maximum allowed by parliament ) for doing this. This may sound slightly o.t.t., but ( believe me ) this family WILL cause such hassle and I value MY privacy TOO. Even though we are law-abiding and would never do wrong, even the police these days fail to apply commonsense - and I don't want them bothering my family over fabricated lies. As I've said, I value MY privacy and right to a peaceful life TOO. Thanks.
Cheryl - 7-May-16 @ 1:10 PM
many thanks for clarifying the use etc of CCTV on a domestic property. I installed 4 cameras on our property following damage to the building and parked vehicle. It's good to know I am not breaking legislation and it's even helped a nieghbour when their scooter was stolen, the youths concerned pushed the scooter passed our house and were seen on the HDD recording, a copy has been sent to the police and their insures were very interested, as it pin point date time and who did the real crime. If anyone is really against domestic installed CCTV, please legislate how we can catch and prosecute the criminals as the police are too understaffed to patrol our streets and keep us safe in our home yet 4 cameras do just that.
Concerned CCTV user - 6-May-16 @ 9:03 PM
hi I am disabled and have CCTV in my home not pointing at any one I live in social housing and the landlord refuses to do repairs as long as there on I explained there for my safety in my own home. I repeat these are in doors and not pointing at neighbours or anyone else's property I have had them for years. there has been a number of people murdered or beaten in this area where I stay and I want to make sure I am safe and if anyone does do anything the police or my family can see who it was. my question is this illegal to have cameras in my home for my protection the only time a camera would capture anyone would be if the front door was open (camera films front door from inside property not outside) or when they entire my property there has been a notice in my hall way for years 6 to be exact and the landlord was fine with it and people have repaired stuff before now there getting difficult and saying there passing this to there legal team. I fail to see how I am breaking any law all cameras are in my home none film out side unless the doors open when they capture whos there. can any one please advise
rt - 6-May-16 @ 11:15 AM
I am installing a camera to protectmy car from the kids playing football in our street they have been repeatedly told off got letters from council also have a no ball sign up
bibbis - 27-Apr-16 @ 12:55 PM
Spursdaddsy - Your Question:
We are cleaners and we clean for a company but we are being watched to see what time we come and go. Is this legal

Our Response:
If you have beeninformed of it beforehand then it's probably fine.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Apr-16 @ 10:47 AM
I touched my neighbour's car but no damage or even small scratch, My neighbour has a cctv camera, he printed off my pictures and threatened me to give my pictures to the police ! My question is : can I sue him as he printed off my pictures without any order from the police ? Is not this against the cctv data protection act 1998 ?
Bosh - 22-Apr-16 @ 3:04 AM
Hello.my neighbour has just installed a cctv to the rear of his property.high up just under the gutter line.i believe that the angle of the camera overlooks my garden.what can i do? Me and my neighbour have not spoke for years. Any help would be most welcome
Bob - 21-Apr-16 @ 6:57 PM
Airson - Your Question:
I have question please help me,My neighbor is a business shop owner and has a cctv camera in sharing car park, his customers disturbing me when they double park in my private car park, last time I put a notice to one of his customer not to park in my space, I was surprised when the business owner posted me my and my wife pictures when I put the notice one his customers's car telling me that is not legal and he will be reporting the police if I make this again ! is printing my pictures through the cctv camera against the law and the cctv data protection ?

Our Response:
The cameras should not be focuses on your private property at all. If people are parking on your land there is no problem with placing a notice on their windscreen telling them so (as long as you do not do any damage).
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Apr-16 @ 2:42 PM
New home owner - Your Question:
We have just moved into a brand new housing development. Most of the houses are privately owned, some rented, some social housing. Also the YMCA own 2 semidetached houses. There is no anti social behaviour or crime in the neighbourhood but the YMCA have put a CCTV sign on each house (large and bright yellow - the type you see in car parks). It now looks like we have a problem with crime in the road and this will reflect on the value of properties in the neighbourhood. Is there anything we can do?

Our Response:
CCTV does not always indicate crime in a neighbourhood. We don't think it's much to worry about but you could try talking to the YMCE housing team about your concerns.
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Apr-16 @ 11:23 AM
We are cleaners and we clean for a company but we are being watched to see what time we come and go. Is this legal
Spursdaddsy - 21-Apr-16 @ 6:04 AM
I have question please help me, My neighbor is a business shop owner and has a cctv camera in sharing car park, his customers disturbing me when they double park in my private car park, last time I put a notice to one of his customer not to park in my space, I was surprised when the business owner posted me my and my wife pictures when I put the notice one his customers's car telling me that is not legal and he will be reporting the police if I make this again ! is printing my pictures through the cctv camera against the law and the cctv data protection ?
Airson - 20-Apr-16 @ 11:18 PM
SMW83 - Your Question:
I live in a block of flats and have installed a CCTV camera to cover my front door after numerous incidents in the block which has left me somewhat unsettled in my own home. I am not filming or monitoring anyone and the camera is motion activated and only records and alerts me if someone is in close proximity to my home. I have been advised by the local council that I have to remove it due to the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (which having looked into it myself seems to only apply to public authorities, councils etc.). Can anyone clarify if I do have to remove this or can I continue to use it?

Our Response:
If it's focused on a communal area/used by other residents or the public then yes you can be asked to remove it. The management company (if you are owners) or the landlord (if you are renting) can consider installing CCTV for security - they must erect signs to advise people that it's in operation.
ProblemNeighbours - 20-Apr-16 @ 12:30 PM
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