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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 19 Mar 2017 | 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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Hummingbird - Your Question:
I live at the end of an un-adopted lane which is also a bridleway. There are 6 houses along here and one of the owners has put 4 huge cctv cameras, on trees, that are along the edge of the bridleway. He does NOT own the land where he has put these cameras; the other 5 houses have a 'caution against first registration' on the land as he was trying to adversely possess it. The bridleway is our only access to and from our properties (5 of the properties have this right on our deeds, he does not) therefore whenever we go out or come home he is watching us. He has admitted in writing that he is doing this! We have objected to these cameras, he has ignored us. He has registered himself with the ICO and on 5 occasions he has ignored our Subject Access Requests and the ICO have told us we can take him to court on 5 separate occasions. The local Council have been asked to intervene as it is a public bridleway but they refuse to saying he has done nothing wrong. The Police have seen the cameras and where they are filming and have confirmed they can see the bridleway but have not told him to remove them. We feel like prisoners in our homes, harassed and stalked by this man who is watching our every move. Surely there must be laws against putting equipment on trees on land that you do not own? I would be most grateful if someone could give us some advise as to where to go and what to do. Furthermore the security firm who installed the cameras removed them the next day when they realised that he didn't own the land on the advice of their solicitor but left them with him and he went straight out and put them back up! He has dug across 2 acres of his land to lay the cables etc for these cctv cameras - that is how far away from his property they are! We would take them down but have been told by the police that would be criminal damage. Please help!

Our Response:
Taking legal advice and possibly action might be your only option here. Between you, you can probably afford to pay for a decent lawyer.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Mar-17 @ 10:41 AM
I live at the end of an un-adopted lane which is also a bridleway.There are 6 houses along here and one of the owners has put 4 huge cctv cameras, on trees, that are along the edge of the bridleway.He does NOT own the land where he has put these cameras; the other 5 houses have a 'caution against first registration' on the land as he was trying to adversely possess it.The bridleway is our only access to and from our properties (5 of the properties have this right on our deeds, he does not)therefore whenever we go out or come home he is watching us.He has admitted in writing that he is doing this!We have objected to these cameras, he has ignored us.He has registered himself with the ICO and on 5 occasions he has ignored our Subject Access Requests and the ICO have told us we can take him to court on 5 separate occasions.The local Council have been asked to intervene as it is a public bridleway but they refuse to saying he has done nothing wrong.The Police have seen the cameras and where they are filming and have confirmed they can see the bridleway but have not told him to remove them.We feel like prisoners in our homes, harassed and stalked by this man who is watching our every move. Surely there must be laws against putting equipment on trees on land that you do not own?I would be most grateful if someone could give us some advise as to where to go and what to do.Furthermore the security firm who installed the cameras removed them the next day when they realised that he didn't own the land on the advice of their solicitor but left them with him and he went straight out and put them back up!He has dug across 2 acres of his land to lay the cables etc for these cctv cameras - that is how far away from his property they are! We would take them down but have been told by the police that would be criminal damage.Please help!
Hummingbird - 19-Mar-17 @ 10:52 AM
My husband has just been attaked in a shopping centre and captured on cctv but the police say it was unclear so they can't used it. Doesnt cctv have to be of a certain standard, to at least stop crimes Happening?
Pete - 13-Mar-17 @ 8:00 PM
Is it legal for an employee of a company to share information based things seen on their CCTV footage to someone who unassociated with them?
Jane - 27-Feb-17 @ 11:26 AM
I have thru various thought I am of this opinion that one is not allowed to take images of anything or peson orpropertywhich isin public place or placein property not owned by the person who is using CCTV
engineer - 22-Feb-17 @ 9:57 AM
Hi we had cctv installed because of our violent neighbour. Police checked our monitor and said it was ok because with children etc walking past couldn't see them. Our neighbour next door has installed his own cctv, the thing is its a 360 degree
lozza - 15-Feb-17 @ 12:15 PM
I am a childminder working from home. We have CCTV installed around the outside of our Home for the protection of the children and our property and are registered with the ICO. Recently our 'neighbours' the local angling society have installed CCTV cameras into their car parks due to recent vandalism and theft. I am sure that one of the cameras points towards our garden and home and are worried that the camera could be recording images of the children. Unfortunately they are not very friendly neighbours, can i ask them to ensure that their cameras are turned away from our home? or to see evidence that it is? or to ask for a letter confirming it is? Many thanks
Frog - 2-Feb-17 @ 6:41 AM
I am a childminder working from home, we have CCTV cameras installed around the outside of our property for the safety of the children and our property and we are registered with the ICO. Recently our 'neighbours' who are the local angling society have installed CCTV in their car park due to recent vandalism and theft in their car park. However i am sure one of the cameras is facing our property and fear it may be recording images of the children. Do i have a right to ask them to ensure no images of our property/children can be seen? Unfortunately they are not very friendly neighbours so want to make sure what the law states on this. Thank you for your advice.
Frog - 1-Feb-17 @ 6:20 AM
Following a recent spate of car keying on my street I want to install a camera to deter any further incidents.I live in a semi-detached with no front garden other than about a metre of chippings with no perimeter fence, pedestrians essentially walk passed my kitchen window.I want to point the camera at my driveway with the field of vision extending out on to the highway, it will not point at any neighbours' property however the driveway is shared and a lot of children pass by, could I be running into any legal problems filming a shared drive and would the frequent passing of children pose any issues? (There is a primary school some half mile away so its a walking route for the school run)
Allan - 31-Jan-17 @ 2:01 PM
We have been having a few issue with neighbor parking car so complaint to orbit about this and we have been in the middle os sorting this ongoing problem.... anyway yesterday they blocked my one of cars in by parking were they shouldn't. So I went to know in their door an kindly asked for them to remove there car. They respondently very brought and said that they had a cama on the window to monitor us and the cars so they evidence of what ever they think we are doing wrong with parking our visível on our drive or the road. And before he shut the door he said that I was become quit a hit on social media. This has made me feel that he is watching us and posting things on social media... I don't feel safe and don't like it..... what can I do ?
Rara - 30-Jan-17 @ 6:42 PM
I have just noticed two cctv cameras outside my council property one is facing his car next door but the other is pointing to my front gate both have microphone speakers so then can pick up sound too is this allowed as I am worried about my privacy and how much of my conversation can be heard
Trace - 29-Jan-17 @ 4:44 PM
A neighbour across from my house has 2 camera's attached to his garden shed pointing in oppositdirections, covering a public car park,,,, it also pointstowards my house and garage,,,,, I do not like having big brother watching my home or public right of way,,,, what can I do to have them removed? They do not cover his house or property,,,,, if they were protecting hus property it would be different, also lots of children play in the car park.
Wombat - 24-Jan-17 @ 8:13 PM
Hi I am currently renting a fast foodbusiness there is a 6 camera cctv system in place for security which I am fine with as it has its uses, however the landlord is remote viewing the cctv which I am not happy with, he rents the business to me and should not be spying on me and the way the business is run. Is this illegal?
Ckali - 21-Jan-17 @ 3:19 PM
Hi. I got a problem whit a family which they living whit my familiy in same house. Just I let you know we rented this house so we are not owns. They fit a cctv camera for protect their car which it's parking on road. They did that ago two years. Ago 6-7 months they accused us that we not pushed good gabage in their space(this area it's in our communal courtyard out front). When we asked them Who they know they said "I checked on cctv camera".We were verry surprised because they told us this camera gonna be just for protect their car not for check us activity on our communal courtyard. After that they repeatedly used cctv camera to check us out if we signed for a envelop or which Time we come home or if we shut The gate. We are verry upset for this, we feel watching all time and i a big disconfort for us. They don't have any permision from agency or land lord. Please help us. Thank you.
mo - 24-Dec-16 @ 4:16 PM
Andi - Your Question:
My neighbour has put cctv in the ginnel between our houses, on my deeds it is mine and she has access. We have stopped using the ginnel as we dont want to be filmed (i have 4 children). She has been asked to take it down but refuses. Am I allowed access to the footage?

Our Response:
You can't access the footage but can ask the police to intervene and get her to take it down.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Dec-16 @ 12:37 PM
My neighbour has put cctv in the ginnel between our houses, on my deeds it is mine and she has access. We have stopped using the ginnel as we dont want to be filmed (i have 4 children). She has been asked to take it down but refuses. Am i allowed access to the footage?
Andi - 21-Dec-16 @ 10:33 AM
Hoppy - Your Question:
My neighbours have recently installed CCTV and I have noticed that it points down from a raised position that is not only covering the steps leading to their house but seems to be covering part of my steps leading to my house. Normally I wouldn't have issues other than the fact that I have had a number of disputes with this neighbour having to get the police involved The CCTV also seams to overlooking the public footpath/pavement and public highway. Not my issue but it may also encroach onto the neighbours houses opposite. Reading other comments I assume that my human rights may be affected as this neighbour is possibly monitoring my property. Am I correct in thinking that they should be displaying CCTV Cameras in use signs? Can I ask the police to check the camera angle and footage, as I believe it is a harassment issue as they monitor me arriving and leaving my house? Are they allowed to openly monitor/film the public pavement/highway?

Our Response:
They do not need to display signs but should not be filming you either. The police should be able to take a look at the positioning of the camera and ask the owner to move it if it's filiming public places.
ProblemNeighbours - 19-Dec-16 @ 2:39 PM
My neighbours have recently installed CCTV and I have noticed that it points down from a raised position that is not only covering the steps leading to their house but seems to be covering part of my steps leading to my house.Normally I wouldn't have issues other than the fact that I have had a number of disputes with this neighbour having to get the police involvedThe CCTV also seams to overlooking the public footpath/pavement and public highway.Not my issue but it may also encroach onto the neighbours houses opposite.Reading other comments I assume that my human rights may be affected as this neighbour is possibly monitoring my property.Am I correct in thinking that they should be displaying CCTV Cameras in use signs?Can I ask the police to check the camera angle and footage, as I believe it is a harassment issue as they monitor me arriving and leaving my house?Are they allowed to openly monitor/film the public pavement/highway?
Hoppy - 17-Dec-16 @ 6:06 PM
Ive got mental health problems my neighbour across road has camaras pointing in and at my house i need advice asap or phone Call
laura - 8-Dec-16 @ 8:23 PM
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
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