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CCTV, Privacy and The Law

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 4 Mar 2021 | 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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i live in a hostel that covers most of the common areas with cctv without sound i have been have trouble with one of the other residents so i have been filming in the areas with out cameras and recording audio where there is camera cover i've just been told by the staff that they have been told by management i cant do that. ihave been told by by others i have spoke to that im not braking any laws in the uk. if anyone can help i need it asap i have been call to be up in front of at midday thank you regards d.g.j
daglje - 4-Mar-21 @ 7:37 PM
A business as taken over empty part of building, they have replaced 2 windows with clear glass, used to be frosted, both face into my yard and back door, also put up CCTV that over looks my yard and garage, l feel now l cant sit out there in summer, are they breaking law?Sit
Rosie - 4-Mar-21 @ 5:13 PM
My mum lived in a block of flats with communal areas (lounge, laundry room) & corridors etc. There is a maintenance fee & residents own a share of the freebie. There is a residents' committee which is purely voluntary & made up of people who there. The so-called chairman has installed cctv cameras INSIDE the block of flats, looking up the corridors. He has access to the footage & residents have no idea how it is stored, who else can access it etc. It's impossible to walk up the corridors, use communal areas without walking past the cameras. Is this legal? How can residents force the "chairman" to remove the cameras?
Chris - 15-Feb-21 @ 10:36 PM
My situation is a little more complicated, me and my gran rent 2 rooms in a 3 bed property. Our housemate has installed security cameras both on the front and back of the house without talking to us about it. The one at the back could be moved so that it's only taping his car but he has them set so they see the entire back. I feel like my personal space is being watched. Are his cameras legally installed or does he have to have the landlords approval? Even more does he have to have our approval as we are also tenants of the property?
Matt - 19-Jan-21 @ 5:06 PM
My neighbour has a camera next to my patio door on there side. Also one up garden on shed pointing at my house I believe they have sound.
Janice - 13-Jan-21 @ 2:02 PM
My neighbour has put a CCTV camera on his back gate, it points at my path/ rear of property,& also more worrying at a school which is opposite,filming the pavements & also children going to & from school, it very creepy, what can I do?? It’s a housing association property, thank you
Daisy - 13-Jan-21 @ 12:39 PM
If you live in social housing (council or housing association)and you have a concern regarding CCTV on another property managed by a social landlord you should do the following: First raise the concern regarding domestic cctv capturing images beyond the property boundary or in a communal area with your Housing Manager. Permission is usually required before any external fittings such as Sat Dishes, CB / TV Aerials, CCTV, etc is installed.(see your tenancy agreement). If the landlord granted permission but did not conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment**, They may be LIABLE for allowing a Tenant to breach your Human RightsArticle 8 "right to privacy" line 1. You have the right to ask the landlord for the "clear and justifiable reason" (from ico guidelines) that overrides your fundamental rights* (granted under UK Data Protection) for giving the Tenant in question permission to intrude on your privacy. You should also ask the landlord for the "legitimate interest reason"*** that the Tenant has for capturing images beyond the property boundary. By making a reference to "The Tenant", The Tenant is now a Data Controller as defined by UK Data Protection Law........SEE PREVIOUS POST....... *article 1 gdpr,**article 35 gdpr, ***article 6 gdpr lawfulness of processing. The references to the Articles STILL APPLY and are THE LAW in 2021.........................live long and prosper...........................
candidcam - 10-Jan-21 @ 3:00 AM
Less obvious is the use of police cameras in towns/cities nationwide here in the UK that have the capability to rotate 360 degrees and on many occasions I've spotted them at that time pointing or overlooking people's front doors, back gardens, bedroom windows and even children play parks. Maybe it's just me but I can't help but feel this is entirely inappropriate.
QW - 2-Jan-21 @ 4:03 PM
Mr Jeff Durham, writer of this article: It would be in your best interests to direct people viewing this article to the ICO website. there is an article explaining briefly the requirements of the DOMESTIC CCTV operator and the rights of those being filmed. To summarise some points.: People operating cctv that captures images beyond their property boundary ARE SUBJECT TO UK DATA PROTECTION LAWS 2018 and must have a Clear And Justifiable reason for doing so. They may also be required to provide a Legitimate Interest reason for capturing such images. They would legally be defined as a Data Controller. People being filmed by cctv may present the controller with a data subject access request. That request can be verbal or in writing and the controller must respond within 30 days. The controller must provide the data subject with the information requested, destroy the data or ensure that they do not collect any future data regarding the identifiable data subject. The EU GDPR soon to be UK GDPR after Brexit, IS incorporated into UK law. The data protection act 2018 and the amendments to it in the communications act 2019 are still UK LAW. You may want to consult with EDPB guidelines incorporated into UK data protection laws. they publish working papers that help legal disputes resolve all kinds of data concerns. SUMMARY : to operate a cctv system that can "see the street"because somebody might break into my house is not a "legitimate reason" for me using such equipment, unless i can prove that i live in a high risk crime area and that i have been burgled before. Examples and definitions relating to the relevant articles of GDPR are taken from EDPB (European data protection board) guidelines working paper 3/2019 . thank you...................live long and prosper.............................................
candidcam - 30-Dec-20 @ 3:26 PM
Does no one answer people's questions in here, what's the point of this site?
Annie - 4-Dec-20 @ 1:27 PM
So my neighbour has decided to put a camera in the communal hallway facing the front door. She claims that this is not recording anyone and was only installed as she had seen a unfamiliar face leaving the property one day.. is it just me or is this totally breaching the privacy of myself and the other neighbours in the building?
Gem - 1-Dec-20 @ 1:29 PM
I have a neighbour who lives directly above me who has been reported constantly for having parties during the covid lockdown and playing music and having her tv on so loud I and other neighbours adjacent to her can hear it. She has now installed a camera outside her property which looks straight down into the communal area, I am disabled so I can only go out through a gate in the communal garden because I use a mobility scooter. I feel that she will now know when I go out and I am concerned that her friends who she has in her flat will either attempt to break in or damage the garden where there are flowers growing, I have had months of harassment and reported it to the council but nothing seems to be done. The police have been called on many occasions but still nothing done. I now feel to scared to go out now, because of her watching me. Can anyone help please
Wma512 - 29-Nov-20 @ 8:38 AM
webcamsarenot legalat pavement/eyelevel thisone on Devon liveclearlyinvadesprivacyand doesnot showtheprettyseaviewof Broadsands -Torbay--petition onDevon livetore point webcam at seaonlyas other webcamsdoand shop willbeBILLEDforusingmy datapassingitto Devon live -unacceptable filming of children changingandnakedas at high tide no beachtochangeon -Why dopoliceand council notact to stop this?
walker - 13-Nov-20 @ 9:19 AM
I have a few neighbors with camera pointing at a public park which the property I live at is connected to its also pointing at my back garden leading into the park they also install lights which they use every time I walk my dog, I feel these devices are used to watch me making it awkward for me to use my back gate any advice would be helpful
Ash - 10-Nov-20 @ 6:21 PM
I live in a private rented property, it has ten flats all owned by same landlord. The building next to us is where the care taker for our building lives, he is a busy body and has installed cameras in random areas outside the property.I know for security landlords are allowed to this but my issue is, is that the caretaker views this footage not the landlord and the caretaker only lives next door for crying out loud. Also, we have never been told about them i have found them.Any advice please.
Demip07 - 3-Nov-20 @ 9:06 PM
I live on a road facing a end terraced wall the person who lives on the end terrorist has installed to CCTV at the front of his house and 2 on the end terraced wall one that points going up the road and one that is pointing directly at my house I have asked the neighbour for likely not to point the camera at my house he told me to f off as it's none of my business what rights does he have he is also spying and creating drama with other neighbours
Meh - 2-Nov-20 @ 10:30 PM
I seen a person next door throwing a large top of a garden heater over my fence trying to break my water fountain, only breaking some ornaments, this was on my CCTV system. I put this on my local Facebook page , naming the house where it came from but not naming the woman, the police came and said it was an offence, but said on this occasion there be no action , is this illegal or legal , and if it is an offence is it useless to have CCTV.
. - 1-Nov-20 @ 7:57 PM
Most of the issues people are having with neighbours potentially spying on them would come under ASB law.Report your issues to your local district/borough council ASB team as they have powers under the Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Police Act 2014.
FrankZ - 16-Oct-20 @ 4:33 PM
Independent Living flats. A resident has put a camera on her front door. It takes pictures of everyone that passes by and goes to her phone and daughter's . Is this legal?
AVMA - 13-Oct-20 @ 12:22 PM
My neighbours put up a camera and said to another it will help protect us! I'm 32 and don't need protection I'm so tempted to demand to see what it shows or take it down!
CONBALLS - 12-Oct-20 @ 1:07 AM
across the road from where I live a neighbour has installed CCTV on the side wall of the end of his premises however the CCTV is pointing directly at my top bedroom window and promises I have asked him to remove the positioning of his CCTV however he refuses to and when it's reported to the police he gets that position changed and thenpositions it back to viewing my premises.he told me the council has given him permission however I don't believe he has permission to point it directly at my promises and invading my privacy I asked him why he's replied was white what you have to hide and told me to piss off how do I report this person he has two cameras pointing from his top upper window to the front of his premises he's house is that end house so on the side of the end house wall he installed another two cameras one I understand is pointing to his back garden however the one on the top right is pointing directly on my promises if he was using this camera for protection it should be pointing downwards at the road which then I don't have a problem with but it's a 360-degree camera and is pointing directly at my house and my top bedroom window can you advise me on what to do
Lou - 20-Sep-20 @ 1:45 AM
My family is getting harassed by next door neighbour since January this year. Police have been informed but didn't do nothing. One car blowed up, another one catch up fire within 3 weeks and this neighbour asked us "if we enjoy what's going on with our cars because he does". Still no issue for police, constantly making pictures or videos with us or our children playing on the front. Last Thursday he installed cctv which is set up on our front garden and our cars. Admitted to it, police doesn't see any issue with it even after report to ICO we have message from ICO "is criminal matter, you should contact police" . My husband and me suffering with PTSD, anxiety and depression i also have adjustment disorder, police told us our mental health is not their issue too. Kids are watched straight from front door or conservatory when playing outside and they are scared as well but is still not issue because he didn't touch them (yet). It is anyone who would help please?
melimoo - 30-Aug-20 @ 10:49 PM
Hey, can anyone help? My parents have left for a weekend away and left a camera facing directly at my room to spy on me, to make sure my bf is not staying (pathetic I know) I’m in my 20s. I received atext earlier ‘ I can see you’ve been hoovering’ my mum was laying hints that she would be seeing everything I do which I thought was a joke. I was Also hoovering in my room. It’s a motion sensory one. My room is also next to the bathroom so I usual just nip to the bathroom naked. There will be these images on that memory card and in there phone. Please can someone point me in the right direction to know what rights I have. I’ve tried researching but it’s mainly ‘neighbours’ Thankyou
K128 - 15-Aug-20 @ 1:22 AM
In my flat parking,Istfloor,2nd floor,terrace had a CCTV cameras my neighbour alone had the user ID & password.they are monitoring the tenants 24/7 and noticing our privacy.In this quarantine time we can't spend much time on terrace,parking anywhere else.Our house owners is not a problem.but this neighbour trying to torturing us by monitoring 24/7.Even relatives not allowed ,me and my daughter literally worried to get out the entrance.how can i really handle this situation?
prema - 13-Aug-20 @ 5:54 AM
I have a camera that i had mounted on the outside of my house it points at my front path leading to my front door. it also picks up a small section of the road and pathway outside my house. i yave been reported to the police and they came out today and looked at the footage and stated that it Does NOT impede any other property but advised me to have the camera pointing in a lower position. is my camera illegal?
milko68 - 10-Aug-20 @ 11:40 AM
Is anyone able to help or advise me. My parents & i are not on speaking terms even though we all live together. Today i noticed they have set up a camera in the lounge of our house pointing towards the front door & hallway. Can they do this? Is it illegal?
Knappi91 - 1-Aug-20 @ 11:28 PM
Hi, i live in a block of flats, with 4 floors and 8 flats, my upstair neighbour has 2 cameras up, 1 at kitchen window, and 1 living room window,!! Are they allowed to do that, as i and also other neighbours in the block feel so uncomfortable as none of us know why they been put up,!I have 7 grand children that play outside everyday and also other kids in the block , myself and other parents dont want our kids to be videod by the them, . Is there anything we can do about this.
Franny - 17-Jul-20 @ 4:11 AM
On Sunday my neighbour threatened me to get out of my house. Then sometime in this week she’s put a cctv up and filming my garden and also the street. Now it’s get frustrating and harassmentcant put washing out and the landlord be wanting the garden to clean up. Also my daughter scared to go out intimidating now
Sarah - 10-Jul-20 @ 10:30 PM
I live in a eight storey block of flats.i am on ground floor.can i put security camers up outsidemy flat and inside by my front door.has i am a council tenant. Has just need to know before putting them up? Has i am not allowed to plant anythingunder my bedroom windows.just wanted to know if this would be wrong of me to do aswell.i am trying to look after my council flat.but council keep refusing to let me do things.need advice please
Milktray - 8-Jul-20 @ 8:55 PM
I live on the corner house of a street which through crime now has huge high grade cctv facing up my street but like I said I live on the corner and if the cameras are facing up my street there facing into my garden and house
Sharks - 6-Jul-20 @ 11:57 PM
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