CCTV, Security

Data Protection Act, CCTV Cameras & The Law

cctv planning permissionCCTV is becoming even more popular as a security device. There are around 4-6  million systems in operation in the UK. As it has grown in popularity, CCTV has become an affordable way to secure properties, deter criminals and capture evidence of criminal activity. However, if you’re planning on installing security cameras, you’ll need to know about UK CCTV law.

Security Camera Systems

Most video security systems consist of several cameras. They can be concealed in many places, including smoke detectors, telephones, and even in the frames of artwork hanging on the wall. These security cameras are generally used to monitor activity inside the home. Some outdoor systems leave one or two cameras exposed as a deterrent, while the other cameras capture happenings in other areas. These cameras can be connected to a VCR or DVR so you can review footage at your leisure.

It is also possible to have remote monitoring, allowing someone with the proper equipment installed on their personal computer to look in on a video surveillance system at another location. This is a feature offered to parents at a growing number of daycare centers, and is becoming increasingly popular for parents who want to check on their older kids who are home alone after school, etc.

Some surveillance cameras are designed to record sound as well as video, while others record only images. While signs warning consumers that they are being filmed and recorded must be posted on the doors in all public places that use audio and video systems, there are no such requirements in private homes.

Do CCTV Cameras Need Planning Permission?

Generally in the UK, you won’t need planning permission to install CCTV, but if you live in a conservation area or listed building it’s worth double checking this with your Local Building Authority, in case you may need planning permission for CCTV. Building regulations also don’t apply to CCTV installation unless the work involves installing a lot of cables, in which case the installer should follow the electrical safety guidelines.

CCTV Data Protection Act 1998

The Data Protection Act 1998 regulates how CCTV is used to protect privacy. It’s important to note that this CCTV privacy law does not apply to domestic properties – so if you’re installing a CCTV camera outside your home to protect from burglary, you don’t need to worry about complying with legislation. However, you should make sure that the camera doesn’t breach the privacy of other unnecessarily; so be careful when pointing it at a neighbour’s property.

The Data Protection Act and CCTV for commercial installations

Businesses, as well as public and commercial organisations do need to adhere to the Data Protection Act when installing CCTV systems. The regulations state that businesses installing CCTV should:

  • Let the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) know about the installation and provide them with the name of the person responsible for the system.
  • Ensure that all CCTV cameras produce clear images.
  • Ensure the public are aware that CCTV cameras are present – the easiest way to do this is to display clear signs, which should include the name and contact information of the organisation in charge of the CCTV system (where this information isn’t immediately obvious).
  • Not install cameras in changing rooms or toilets without very serious cause – if they choose to do this signs must make extra clear that CCTV is operating in these areas.
  • Not record conversations between members of the public.
  • Store footage securely and destroy it after the appropriate period of time.
  • Not share CCTV footage with third party groups or organisations, unless as part of legal proceedings.
  • Supply footage to those they have filmed upon their request within 40 calendar days of receiving the request and for a maximum charge of £10.
  • Carry out regular checks to ensure the CCTV system is functioning properly.


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