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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 23 Jul 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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[Add a Comment]
Can you aim cctv into public areas from a private property?
Herbert - 23-Jul-16 @ 5:46 PM
Can anyone have from there private house have cctv pointing into a public area ??
Herbert - 23-Jul-16 @ 5:45 PM
My mother in law lives in a row of 6 houses, she lives 3rd from right. There is a pathway and a big grass verge in front. She is being treated for cancer and also has arthritis in her spine so finds it hard to walk. So family members park on grass verge to drop her off and drop shopping off. They park there for max 20 mins. They neighbour right at the left end has cctv and keeps videoing us doing this and also our kids if they play on grass. He keeps calling the police and reporting us for parking there. He says cameras are there to protect his property so why are they pointing 4 houses down and watching what we're doing. Reported my husband on Sunday to police as we had to pick our dog up from her house. My husband has a blue badge as he's disabled and dog has broke her major ligament in back leg so had to pick her up into car. There is no signage to say you can't park on grass and it's not like we park there all day long. Not even any where near his property.
Donna - 21-Jul-16 @ 7:16 PM
My parents are getting divorced and my dad has installed a cctv in his bedroom and I only just found out about it after having spent a lot of times watching TV in their being filmed without my knowledge is this legal?
Cookie - 12-Jul-16 @ 10:16 PM
Janeyb - Your Question:
Our neighbours are very paranoid and have cameras front and back. Its the dome type black camera. The rear camera, in my opinion with no proof, can record the whole of my garden which I find very unnerving seen as we dont get on, my 2 girls play on the paddling pool at the back and the trampoline also. Theu have a video of me parking an inch past the fence from months ago so it is very unsettling wondering what other footage they might have of my girls playing in MY garden. Help! What can I do???

Our Response:
If you think your privacy is being invaded you can contact your local police and ask them to take a look at the positioning of the CCTV.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Jul-16 @ 2:17 PM
Our neighbours are very paranoid and have cameras front and back. Its the dome type black camera. The rear camera, in my opinion with no proof, can record the whole of my garden which i find very unnerving seen as we dont get on, my 2 girls play on the paddling pool at the back and the trampoline also. Theu have a video of me parking an inch past the fence from months ago so it is very unsettling wondering what other footage they might have of my girls playing in MY garden. Help! What can i do???
Janeyb - 10-Jul-16 @ 2:51 PM
Tevionfox- Your Question:
A person on our estate has three cameras in two upstairs rooms. They clearly are filming beyond his promise but claims it's for home security. Although I am a law abiding citizen I do feel like I'm under scrutiny every time I park in the shared car park. I wouldn't even mind if he had said it was to film his own car. But he doesn't even own one. Is there anything that can be done?

Our Response:
You can ask the local police to take a look at the positioning of the cameras as you'll see from other responses.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Jul-16 @ 2:08 PM
A person on our estate has three cameras in two upstairs rooms. They clearly are filming beyond his promise but claims it's for home security. Although I am a law abiding citizen I do feel like I'm under scrutiny every time I park in the shared car park. I wouldn't even mind if he had said it was to film his own car. But he doesn't even own one. Is there anything that can be done?
Tevionfox - 6-Jul-16 @ 5:34 PM
I live in a block of flats (16 flats) in one block, can the council put up cctv right outside your front door??
Don't have 1 - 5-Jul-16 @ 1:05 PM
I live in a sheltered scheme we are all having problems with this particular neighbour which involves harassment. She bullies and harasses the elderly and she is much younger. She has put 2 CCTV cameras overlooking the communal area facing some bungalows. When police come she said it was to look at her car which is parked a fair way but her camera is pointing on the public footpath she can see when we come and go also its high up over a neighbours front garden is she allowed to do this just because her car is in the car park. This is an excuse as its I feel a way for her to be a peeping tom
Aggy - 2-Jul-16 @ 8:10 PM
Nikki - Your Question:
I live in a block of 6 flats 3 up 3 down my upstairs neighbour has just put up 2 cctv cameras that records sound pouring at my door and every one else's in a comunual area what action can I take to get these removed as I feel this is a breach of my human rights to privacy

Our Response:
Speak to your landlord first of all. If that is unsuccessful you could try your local police.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-Jun-16 @ 11:27 AM
I live in a block of 6 flats 3 up 3 down my upstairs neighbour has just put up 2 cctv cameras that records sound pouring at my door and every one else's in a comunual area what action can i take to get these removed as I feel this is a breach of my human rights to privacy
Nikki - 28-Jun-16 @ 8:11 PM
This morning I have find my neighbour Putcamera around and front of house as well he can wach us..his living in ground floor I living in1st floor What he did is legal to do this?
Alex - 26-Jun-16 @ 10:28 PM
im living in a private rented property with my two boys, just notice the landlord is installing cctv at the front of the property he didn't say anything to me at all. Couple of month ago someone throw somethingl and broke a window. Is this legal.l
angie - 26-Jun-16 @ 5:03 PM
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
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