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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 25 May 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 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
I live on a very rough estate where crime is constantly happening and i have had bullyinh and threats from neighbours. Is it illegal for me to have this cctv for my Safety . It had been of use in proof of many crimes
Deb968 - 27-Apr-18 @ 6:10 PM
Ellba - Your Question:
We live on a terraced block. My neighbours are intrusive they have audio cctv front and back, even a video doorbell the weirdos. We cant speak out the front or enjoy our garden. The front camera is next to the other neighbours bedroom window. We have contacted the ico, tbe police and council. Even our mp but they said there is nothing they can do. We feel like prisoners. Nobody will help.

Our Response:
You could consider taking private legal action possibly for a nuisance related issue or one of the privacy laws. You'd have to seek advice from a legal professional before considering this.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Apr-18 @ 12:25 PM
We live on a terraced block. My neighbours are intrusive they have audio cctv front and back, even a video doorbell the weirdos. We cant speak out the front or enjoy our garden. The front camera is next to the other neighbours bedroom window. We have contacted the ico, tbe police and council. Even ourmp but they said there is nothing they can do.We feel like prisoners. Nobody will help.
Ellba - 23-Apr-18 @ 9:11 AM
I live in a privately owned block of flats, which is overseen by a management company notionally elected by owners. The flats are owner occupied or privately rented. The management company has recently installed CCTV covering the communal areas, which are also used for access by people making deliveries etc. There are no signs about the existence of the cameras. The footage has been used to identify people breaking trifling Management Company rules about parking etc, rather than to deter criminal activities. Are they allowed to use footage for such purposes?
Jamsie - 20-Apr-18 @ 8:10 AM
Can the Police access an adjoining residential property's CCTV camera aimed directly at her and myfence line into my property? I have a neighbour whom I do not socialise within anyfriendly chatter, only making contact whensheconsistently complains if any foliage that encroaches over the fence on to her property. Recently I purchased another home with the view to move in and then carry out renovations on my first home to sell. A real estate agent approached me on behalf of my unfriendly neighbour to ask if I would remove trees and foliage that impede the sea and city views of her property and affect the sale price of her home she also intends to sell. The trees are significant , up to25 years old. I declined to have them removed but agreed to trim. For the last two months, I've been living between two residents.Over thelast weeks, I'vehave noticed a deterioration of my garden bed at my first home that is left vacant on occasions. First, a full hedge of witches broom showed signs of rapidly dying off Then my 25 year oldChinese Fan Palm showed significant signs of poor health and in and into the laststage of dying.m An arborist was engaged who informed me that my large garden bed was completelypoisoned andin the stages of dying . In addition, 50 or more holes were drilled into the trunks, and a glyphosate potent herbicide was injected intotwo of my Palm trees. Coincidentally both trees in the line sightof the neighbour's sea and city view she would wantto achieve. My garden with torch Gingers, witches broom hedge, Exora's Foxtail Palms and many more plants, all now in advance stages of completely dying. In addition to my garden vandalised and poisoned, a 25-year-old Council owned, Cuban Royal Palm Tree on the Council verge also in line sight of the neighbour's sea and city view has numerous drill holes with the injected potent glyphosate potent herbicide.Her CCTV camera would record when I am in residence or not! I have filed a police report and notified the Cairns City Council who are investigating the dying Cuban Royal. I am a retired female owner in fear of this neighbour's alleged erratic and suspicious behaviour. She is (maybe a 55-year-old) sole resident of this neighbouring property. What other action can be taken by me to protect my property and possibly my safety?
Gutted - 15-Apr-18 @ 10:25 PM
My neighbor just installed CCTV and it's pointing outside her boundary when my son was moving his car forward he was using his mobile is the neighbor aloud to give the evidence to the police or is she breaking data protection act as I know he should not have used his mobile in the quiet street but is she aloud to point her camera in my boundary as I have reported to the council as well giving her warnings but it seems nothing is happening.
David - 5-Apr-18 @ 11:57 PM
Can my neighbour install cctv on the outside of a block of flats. He is private but some are council
Kezza - 31-Mar-18 @ 7:02 PM
A neighbour has a camera pointing straight in your face as you walk to their door, the camera is also covering the path outside and the road which they do not own, they can see everybody walking past with their dogs, kids etc, this house is part of a residential estate in a village, is it illegal to record people walking past minding their own business
Scott123 - 27-Mar-18 @ 2:10 PM
My neighbours next door have put up a cctv and films my back garden is this aloud
Panda - 22-Mar-18 @ 3:26 PM
Tyreman - Your Question:
We had a cctv appear on a lamp post by our house but no one noes about it want can I do

Our Response:
If it's on a lamp post in a public area, your local council will know about it. Give them a call.
ProblemNeighbours - 20-Mar-18 @ 2:30 PM
We had a cctv appear on a lamp post by our house but no one noes about it want can I do
Tyreman - 19-Mar-18 @ 10:17 AM
My neighbour has cctv footage of me and audio recording of me is this legal or can i do something about this
E Edmonds - 13-Mar-18 @ 5:51 PM
monzy - Your Question:
I'm a caretaker at a large block of flats with 14 cctv cameras located in public areas / common ways.I have access to the main unit and also an app on my phone installed by the company enabling me to view all cctv from where ever I may be.Recently the directors and managing agent have also installed the app on their phone.Is this allowed or can it be seen as a violation of data privacy

Our Response:
Any footage should be encrypted to prevent unauthorised access and should only be able to be viewed in a restricted environment by authorised people (we assume management co and directors are). Check the Information Commissioner if you're unsure or unhappy about anything.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Mar-18 @ 12:29 PM
I have a domestic CCTV installed which covesr the front of my house but it also covers the public footpath and neighbours cars (privacy screen now on).My neighbour has damaged my property and it was reported to the police.My neighbour has asked for a copy of the evidence.Do I have to provide a copy?
Nick - 12-Mar-18 @ 10:27 PM
Neighbour has a spy hole camera facing my door just found out he is a single man and I live as a single parent with two kids
Lozza - 11-Mar-18 @ 2:41 PM
I'm a caretaker at a large block of flats with 14 cctv cameras located in public areas / common ways. I have accessto the main unit and also an app on my phone installed by the company enabling me to view all cctv from where ever I may be. Recently the directors and managing agent have also installed the app on their phone. Is this allowed or can it be seen as a violation of data privacy
monzy - 10-Mar-18 @ 11:31 AM
Nath - Your Question:
Hi, I'm about to install CCTV outside my flat. I live in a 2 story building and live on the top floor. To get to my flat we have to use a small alley which the ground floor resident uses and 2 neighbours either side use the alley also.All 4 residences use the rear garden as access too. I'm about to install cctv in the rear garden which would point to the entrance of the garden, 1 camera pointing at the front down to the gate and also one upstairs outside my front door.Now know that the camera upstairs wont be a problem, but I am worried about the 2 outside showing both front and rear entrances. Am I breaking any laws, as 3 other residents use these entrances.

Our Response:
You could be infringing your neighbour's privacy rights if you instal the cameras without their permission/knowledge. Why not talk to them about it first?
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Mar-18 @ 2:30 PM
My neighbours have installed moving cctv cameras around their property but my concern is that one is pointing straight into my kitchen/back garden. I went to local police and they weren't interested. No one seems able to tell me what my rights are. I have a three year old child and a bit worried about what they are recording
Jackie78 - 7-Mar-18 @ 12:16 PM
Hi, I'm about to install CCTV outside my flat. I live in a 2 story building and live on the top floor. To get to my flat we have to use a small alley which the ground floor resident uses and 2 neighbours either side use the alley also. All 4 residences use the rear garden as access too. I'm about to install cctv in the rear garden which would point to the entrance of the garden, 1 camera pointing at the front down to the gate and also one upstairs outside my front door. Now know that the camera upstairs wont be a problem, but I am worried about the 2 outside showing both front and rear entrances. Am I breaking any laws, as 3 other residents use these entrances.
Nath - 6-Mar-18 @ 5:56 PM
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