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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 27 Nov 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 neighbour is putting screws into my car tyres, I have no proof it's him though! I want to install a small CCTV camera outside to keep an eye on my car. There is a parking space either side of my car. Am I allowed to put a camera up on council property? I have found an extremely small camera which would surfice to my requirements. I actually want it more as a deterrent before this fool causes me to have a serious accident!
Pebbles - 27-Nov-16 @ 9:10 AM
Our next door neighbors have installed CCTV between our property and theirs, our pathway and theirs go side by side and that camera catches both pathways and front gates, which means they can observe us come in and go out. We have told this to the housing association which does not wish to intervene. We have two small children and one has special needs I do not wish my next door neighbor to be able to monitor when my little one has meltdowns and I need to cuddle him and reassure him that everything is alright. Is there any privacy protection for children with special needs from CCTV? neighbors do not own their property and though they know we do not agree with that camera being there they made it clear they do not care to take it down unless made to do so. Please advice.
Angi - 25-Nov-16 @ 9:58 AM
Pete B - Your Question:
My neighbours visitors stop/park on an area of tarmac outside my house that I own (it's on my deeds as proof). This tarmac provides a right of access only for my neighbours to get to there property. My neighbour and their visitors use my tarmac as a parking bay despite the deeds stating that no one can park there at anytime ever.So, can I install a CCTV camera to record just this area of tarmac? I want to install it to collect evidence for civil prosecution against the tresspassers but outside of evidence gathering, it will obviously record my neigbours crossing it to get to and from the property.

Our Response:
If it's your land you can probably install CCTV but must erect notices informing people that it's in operation. You must be prepared for neighbours to complain that their privacy rights have been infringed. You can probably still take legal action about the access without CCTV evidence. Seek advice fromasolicitor.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Nov-16 @ 10:53 AM
My neighbours visitors stop/park on an area of tarmac outside my house that I own (it's on my deeds as proof).This tarmac provides a right of access only for my neighbours to get to there property.My neighbour and their visitors use my tarmac as a parking bay despite the deeds stating that no one can park there at anytime ever. So, can I install a CCTV camera to record just this area of tarmac?I want to install it to collect evidence for civil prosecution against the tresspassers but outside of evidence gathering, it will obviously record my neigbours crossing it to get to and from the property.
Pete B - 15-Nov-16 @ 1:22 PM
Popeye - Your Question:
Hi, I live one door away,semi detached from a pub. A week after I moved in she complained to my landlord about my back gate standing open DAY and NIGHT. Now I realised a ccv camera hovering on a pole over the backyard, back alley. The first night I spent at house the landlords mother came over with her son-in-law who is a garda to supposedly come show me how to work the oil heating system. I told my landlord that I preferred using the back as entrance and exit hence the open gate which doesn't close from outside,for legitimate reasons. I also feel like I'm being watched leaving the house using the front door. What should I do?It is a small close community and town and the landlords family basically own the town being wealthy.

Our Response:
You can complain to the police if the CCTV is focused on your private property (i.e your rear yard). Any communal areas such as a joint passageway etc owned by the landlord can be filmed but there must be a notice in place warning people that CCTV is in operation.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Nov-16 @ 10:35 AM
Hi, I live one door away,semi detached from a pub. A week after I moved in she complained to my landlord about my back gate standing open DAY and NIGHT. Now I realised a ccv camera hovering on a pole over the backyard, back alley. The first night I spent at house the landlords mother came over with her son-in-law who is a garda to supposedly come show me how to work the oil heating system. I told my landlord that I preferred using the back as entrance and exit hence the open gate which doesn't close from outside,for legitimate reasons. I also feel like I'm being watched leaving the house using the front door. What should I do?It is a small close community and town and the landlords family basically own the town being wealthy.
Popeye - 12-Nov-16 @ 2:33 AM
I stay in a block of six and mydown stair neighbour that lives on ground floor has installed a Web Cam on his window sill which is not fixed and is connected to his laptop viva a TV monitor which is pointing at his car but also overlooks the comunial entrance path to the flat.also overlooks not just his car but all the way down the street which looks onto the entrance to the school.We have been informed by neighbour that he's going to get a 360 degree camera which will capture all off the street from top to bottom and he does not own is property it's council. Can someone tell me if this is allowed or not as he never told anyone he had camera on street and entrance. Nothappy he's watching me coming and going from my property and no,s everything am doing.
Mark - 30-Oct-16 @ 1:26 PM
Is it legal for my neighbour to point a camera at my path, the path belongs to me. There is a driveway behind path which is communal and she says that she's filming the driveway but she has a another camera which covers this area. I think this is wrong but need advice before I take legal action
Big scan - 21-Oct-16 @ 11:45 AM
Dabnis - Your Question:
I have a CCTV which overlooks my garden and is normally left in a fixed position. It is registered with the ICO & signs are in place. I recently used the camera to record a neighbour walking past the end of my property carrying many heavy items for more than 100 yards even though she who claims that she can not walk & claims all types of benefits because of this alleged disability. I am now informed that because I moved the camera to capture what has been confirmed as evidence of a criminal offence (benefit fraud), that I may be in breach of the use of my CCTV, in deed may have committed a criminal offence myself.The captured footage was passed to the relevant authorities, never made public & is kept secure under my data protection policy.Am I breaching the law?

Our Response:
Do you run a business from your home?
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Oct-16 @ 11:26 AM
I have a CCTV which overlooks my garden and is normally left in a fixed position. It is registered with the ICO & signs are in place. I recently used the camera to record a neighbour walking past the end of my property carrying many heavy items for more than 100 yards even though she who claims that she can not walk & claims all types of benefits because of this alleged disability. I am now informed that because I moved the camera to capture what has been confirmed as evidence of a criminal offence (benefit fraud), that I may be in breach of the use of my CCTV, in deed may have committed a criminal offence myself. The captured footage was passed to the relevant authorities, never made public & is kept secure under my data protection policy. Am I breaching the law?
Dabnis - 20-Oct-16 @ 5:06 PM
I have a neighbour across the road who has cctv at her home recording outside her property, she has made it known to other s that it is for personal security. Today she came from her house to shout at myself and 9yr old son for picking conkers from a tree on public grounds next to my house. I am unsure if she can see my house but knowing she can see the area in which we were standing means she can see the children playing and film our cars entering and exiting the car park (where she does not park her car) I feel uneasy knowing she is recording the children on the grassy public area, and using the cctv to threaten me into submission. Can she film this area away from her property? Does she needs to have any signage on display? Should it be recording only her property?
unsure - 17-Oct-16 @ 9:30 PM
My next door neighbour has a log burner and we live in a smokeless zone, although he has been warned by the local council officer of his burner emitting smoke ( local laws permit a 10 minute light up time when smoke can be allowed ) his chimney quite frequently emits smoke for up to 30 minutes at a time. Would I be in my rights to set up a cctv camera which would only monitor the top of the roof and the chimney stack, which is actually a shared chimney stack between our terraced properties?
Clear air please - 12-Oct-16 @ 7:47 AM
Newbarneyjoy - Your Question:
I have just noticed my neighbour has a camera mounted under the roof guttering of his house. Our houses are joined as they are semi-detached. Looking at the angle of the camera and the fact it is so high up they will surely be able to film my garden. Also I was never informed by the neighbour that they were fitting CCTV. Is this legal and if not who should I contact to make a complaint?

Our Response:
First speak to the neighbour. The camera may not actually be filming your property at all. If it is, and they won't move it, your local police can take a look and ask them to move it. If that doesn't work, a civil suit on the grounds of privacy might be in order.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Oct-16 @ 2:46 PM
Fred - Your Question:
One of my neighbours has complained about the use of my cctv outside my home saying that its invading his privacy although it only covers a public area with my private car parking g space in the middle. My landlord (housing association) has told me that I have to remove my cctv as the RIPA law applies to them and they have to enforce it on me. Is this true?Thanks

Our Response:
Yes you cannot install/focus CCTV at property that does not belong to you.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Oct-16 @ 12:31 PM
I have just noticed my neighbour has a camera mounted under the roof guttering of his house. Our houses are joined as they are semi-detached. Looking at the angle of the camera and the fact it is so high up they will surely be able to film my garden. Also I was never informed by the neighbour that they were fitting CCTV. Is this legal and if not who should i contact to make a complaint?
Newbarneyjoy - 5-Oct-16 @ 10:55 AM
One of my neighbours has complained about the use of my cctv outside my home saying that its invading his privacy although it only covers a public area with my private car parking g space in the middle. My landlord (housing association) has told me that I have to remove my cctv as the RIPA law applies to them and they have to enforce it on me. Is this true? Thanks
Fred - 5-Oct-16 @ 2:53 AM
Bob - Your Question:
I have a naibour who's kids keep kicking their football over my garden. I have asked them to stop but I'm ignored. I am installing a cctv Camara for evidence to apply for an injunction to stop them playing football in their garden. I understand about pivicy but can I have the camara showing the top of the fence where the balls come over even though it might show some part of their house.

Our Response:
As long as the camera is only pointing at your own property, i.e if the fence is yours and you are not filming any part of your neighbour's garden.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Oct-16 @ 10:48 AM
I have a naibour who's kids keep kicking their football over my garden. I have asked them to stop but I'm ignored. I am installing a cctv Camara for evidence to apply for an injunction to stop them playing football in their garden.I understand about pivicy but can I have the camara showing the top of the fence where the balls come over even though it might show some part of their house.
Bob - 3-Oct-16 @ 1:45 PM
skinnyribs - Your Question:
Do you have to get permission from the landlord (Housing Association)to install cctv cameras on the outside of the flats?My neighbour has installed them without permission saying he has them pointed at the carpark despite not owning/using a car.He seems very paranoid and Im feeling very uncomfortable with his decisions.

Our Response:
yes - only your landlord is able to install CCTV on a communal car park and must put up notices to inform people of such.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Sep-16 @ 12:29 PM
Do you have to get permission from the landlord (Housing Association)to install cctv cameras on the outside of the flats?My neighbour has installed them without permission saying he has them pointed at the carpark despite not owning/using a car.He seems very paranoid and Im feeling very uncomfortable with his decisions.
skinnyribs - 20-Sep-16 @ 3:45 PM
My neighbour has put up cctv on the front of her house it looks like it's directed into my kitchen window as well I have a 11year old lad and I've called the police to ask them to check her camera as it's a violation of my privacy under the human rights act article 8and I have to safe guard my son as he's a minor and I do not want myself or family members filmed on cctv the police said it's nothing to do with them I've to go to a solicitoreven though the neighbour could be violating our privacy by filming us I thought it was against the law to do this and that I have a right to get police involved
Debs - 17-Sep-16 @ 4:32 PM
My neighbours keep throwing garden clippings and mud over the fence between us. I would like to gather CCTV evidence and present it to the police but I understand there could be privacy issues. I just want it to stop.
Al - 14-Sep-16 @ 1:59 PM
Bicquette - Your Question:
Our neighbours have 4 cctv pointing at our garden, and one at the back of his garden pointing to our back bedroom window. We do not talk as we are having a court dispute with them currently. We have involved the police, and requested that they check their CCTV. They refuse for the police to go in their house and check the camera. Police told us there was nothing else they could do as it was a civil matter and for us to take to court!.

Our Response:
Yes if the police cannot/are not willing to force access, you should consider taking it to court. A legal adviser will be able to tell you whether you will success and whether a case would be made under privacy laws or harassment legislation.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Sep-16 @ 12:32 PM
Our neighbours have 4 cctv pointing at our garden, and one at the back of his garden pointing to our back bedroom window. We do not talk as we are having a court dispute with them currently. We have involved the police, and requested that they check their CCTV. They refuse for the police to go in their house and check the camera. Police told us there was nothing else they could do as it was a civil matter and for us to take to court!..
Bicquette - 7-Sep-16 @ 1:40 PM
hello my neibour has just put up a cemera facing only our driveway not even facing his own property i believe this is just another thing he is useing to bully us into moving as he is abusive to all his neibours putting nails and screws in tires as a result we have purchased cameras and are planing to put them facing problem areas as he has also been dumping feces on our driveway aswell as throwing things over the fence i was wondering what can be done about this camera
geoff - 28-Aug-16 @ 12:23 PM
Can you have cctv if you live in a council house / housing association?
R124 - 24-Aug-16 @ 4:02 PM
A few moths ago my neighbour parked her car in the access way to public steps that run down the side of my garden to the road behind . apparently the side of the car got scratched , obviously by someone who wanted to use the steps but couldn't get past . Having come back from holiday only a few days ago we've noticed a cctv camera mounted on her house directly opposite the lane and my rear garden . Her house is slightly elevated to mine and on the opposite side of the road to me and the lane/access way ! As a consequence of this she can now see directly into my rear garden over my gates and no doubt hear everything we say when entering / leaving my property ... I planted a tree next to my driveway to try and give us as much privacy as possible as she is renowned locally for being very ignorant and extremely nosy ... My tree is now nothing more than an ornamentbecause she can see straight over it ! It's a complete invasion of privacy in my opinion ... It's like living in a goldfish bowl now ... This can't be legal surely ??? Any help and advice is much appreciated , there is no point in asking her to move it because all I'll get is sarcastic remarks , abuse and even laughed at by her ...????
Midge - 18-Aug-16 @ 11:51 AM
A neighbour has recently installed an industrial size security camera which I overheard his son say has a wide angle lens and can look into a window half a mile away. This overlooks the rear of my property and my back garden, it is scanning from side to side continuously. Is this an invasion of privacy.
Bazza - 15-Aug-16 @ 7:57 PM
My neighbors has cameras installed. 2 of which are either side of his front door meaning one seems to be pointing in direction to my front door. We live in flats and my property is the last one on the row. Is he okay to have these cameras pointing towards my door? I've asked him and he's saying the council have told him to install them and they are linked to the council but I've never been informed
KatieL - 9-Aug-16 @ 6:18 PM
I found a camera in my house, iv lived here for 14yrs and iv never used cameras, is it illegal for anyone to put camera in my house and why?? I'm very worried about this
Karen - 5-Aug-16 @ 7:11 AM
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