RIDING Blog

Myth Busters This Week: CCTV and the New Government Guidelines

 

Myth 1: There are no official rules about CCTV in the UK

The Truth: The UK Government has this month (June 2013) launched its new 'Surveillance Code of Practice.' Andrew Rennison, the UK's Surveillance Camera Commissioner, has been behind its creation and implementation. Full details and a downloadable copy of the guidelines can be found at www.gov.uk

 

Myth 2: Failure to comply with the Code of Practice could mean criminal or civil proceedings against me and/or my company

The Truth: These are guidelines and not laws, as such. There is a distinct difference between the two. The intention of the guidelines is that companies, local authorities and individuals using CCTV systems will comply as a moral choice, and to show their integrity and public-spirited focus. The guidelines are not intended to be punitive, but to help those who are using CCTV to draw boundaries and to use it in a way that is responsible and community-minded.

While failure to comply will not mean a custodial sentence or a fine, it could be used against you if you have not complied and find yourself discredited in civil proceedings. This could seriously affect your company's professional reputation, so it pays to know the guidelines and follow them.

 

 

Myth 3: If I have CCTV on my private property, it is up to me where I position it

The Truth: Under European law, everyone is encouraged to consider the privacy of other people living and working in the vicinity of the CCTV. If you have CCTV cameras on your private property, it is strongly suggested that you avoid angling them in such a way that they can view your neighbours' doors or windows.

 

Myth 4: Once I have had CCTV installed, I don't need to worry about it again in the future

The Truth: The Government Code of Practice states specifically that you must review your CCTV system periodically to make sure its use is still justified. If not, it should be decommissioned with immediate effect.

 

Myth 5: I do not have to tell my staff or clients that I have installed CCTV

The Truth: The Code of Practice states that there needs to be a reasonable degree of transparency about your implementation of CCTV. This does not mean that you need to signpost people to the exact location of individual cameras (as this could undermine the system's efficacy), but it is reasonable to inform people that there is CCTV in operation on the premises. This is usually in the form of a written notice, in clear view in reception/public areas.

If you have CCTV on your business premises, you should also have a complaints procedure in place so that you are prepared if anyone challenges you on the position or coverage of your CCTV system.

Myth 6: Once my company CCTV system is up and running, it should just take care of itself

The Truth: As well as periodic checks by a designated expert, the guidelines specify that you should designate a member of your existing staff (or else outsource the role to security company personnel) to be responsible and accountable for your security system.

 

Myth 7: As the owner of the CCTV system on my premises, I have a right to keep images it collects indefinitely

The Truth: The new Code of Practice states that you may not keep CCTV images for longer than they are reasonably required (for example, until the police have used them to prosecute burglars caught on your cameras). This complies with current UK Data Protection laws. You could find yourself in serious trouble if you infringe these laws.

 

Myth 8: Anyone in my company can access and store CCTV images

The Truth: Access to the CCTV images your system retains (for specific purposes only, such as an investigation following a break-in) must be restricted. You should not allow anyone except designated CCTV personnel to have access. As well as presenting privacy issues, the validity of the images could be compromised if untrained staff members have access. Images could be altered or lost, rendering them useless as evidence for prosecution.

 


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