Archive for the ‘Data Protection Act’ Category

CCTV – Data Protection Act (DPA)

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The Data Protection Act was introduced to promote high standards in the handling of personal information, and so to protect the individual’s right to privacy. This applies particularly to CCTV systems as they process personal data in the form of video images.

The 8 Data Protection Principles

Most businesses with CCTV installations will have to comply with the requirements of the Act by complying with the 8 data protection principles of good information handling.

Personal information must be:

  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for specified purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate, and where necessary, kept up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in line with the rights of the individual
  • Kept secure
  • Not transferred to countries outside the European Economic Area unless there is adequate protection of the information

What happens if I do not comply?

  • Your business’s reputation and finances could be affected
  • The Information Commissioner could also take enforceable action against you to bring your processing into compliance with the 8 principles
  • A failure to notify or renew a notification that your business has a CCTV system in operation is a criminal offense punishable by a fine, unless you are exempt from notifying
  • An individual may seek compensation through the courts for any damage suffered

What is a Subject Access Request?

Individuals have limited rights under the Act to request a copy of the information held about them. This is known as the right of subject access.

Such requests must be documented and reasonable, and you can charge an administration fee of up to £10 to produce the information. You must deal with such requests promptly and in any case within 40 days.

How do I become compliant?

Firstly, you should ensure that your system complies with the 8 Data Protection Principles.

If you have not done so already, you should register your CCTV system (commercial or public) with the Information Commissioner. This can be done at, or by telephone on 01625 545740. The notification period is one year and the fee is £35. If you have already registered your CCTV system the Information Commissioner will write to you before the expiry date of your register entry, and the renewal cost is £35.

You should display warning signs to show that CCTV cameras are recording, and stating the purpose of the system and details of who manages the system and how to contact them.

Is it easy to comply if I have an analogue (VCR) CCTV system?

CCTV Systems incorporating an analogue Video Cassette Recorder (VCR)

The main issues with analogue CCTV systems, in terms of complying with the Data Protection Act, is with subject access requests and releasing personal information to an individual if requested, and ensuring that personal information (video images) is kept as long as necessary.

  • All your recordings must be logged and tracked to show who changes tapes and when, and when a tape has been released to a third party or removed from use
  • All your recorded tapes and video cassette recorders must be kept secure

Is it easy to comply if I have a digital (DVR) CCTV system?

CCTV Systems incorporating a Digital Video Recorder (DVR)

The main issue with a digital CCTV system, in terms of complying with the Data Protection Act, is with securing the recordings and digital recording devices.

  • All your recordings must be logged and tracked to show how long images are stored and when images have been released to a third party
  • All your recorded images and digital recording devices must be kept secure

CCTV installation guidelines

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Installing CCTV can be difficult as legal guidelines for the installer are surprisingly vague.

Across the country, there are different expectations for CCTV installation. UK councils and constabularies often set their own CCTV installation guidelines, making it hard to know how to tackle each project.

CCTV installation regulations

Estimates suggest there are over four million CCTV cameras in the UK, with this number expected to rise as technology becomes cheaper and public security concerns increase. Indeed, recent reports suggest the UK’s CCTV market will be worth an unprecedented $1.92m by 2012.

While the Home Office and the Information Commissioner produce the overarching guidelines and codes, there appears to be different expectations for the installation and operation of cameras throughout the nation’s councils and constabularies.

Your local council sets guidelines for all CCTV in the area. These are usually general guidelines to ensure that your system is not in breach of a series of legal Acts, including the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act.

The guidelines are also set to ensure that CCTV systems operate for the right reasons (e.g. crime prevention) and that systems are in keeping with the wider aims of the council.

There are exceptions. Many cities, shopping centres and even car parks have their own Codes of Practice, but these are usually issued to assure the public of honest intentions and proper practice, rather than as guidelines.

Your local constabulary sets guidelines for CCTV in licensed premises. As they are in charge of licensing across the region, they may well refuse an establishment the right to operate if their CCTV does not meet the standards.

Each police force throughout the country is at liberty to set its own requirements, although some simply refer people to the Information Commissioners website.

When installing CCTV, there are national and legal requirements, and the following links can offer you advice:

If you intend to use your CCTV evidence in a prosecution at any time, your system MUST adhere to the Information Commissioners generic Code of Practice

If you intend to use CCTV in a licensed premises, you can find independent legal advice (to be used alongside your local constabulary’s guidelines).

The Home Office also offer advice guidelines for digital CCTV systems that could be used as evidence. Click here

The Information Commissioner is already conducting an extensive review of the existing CCTV Code of Practice to make sure it has kept up-to-date with technological and other developments. This review will also take into account the changes to the interpretation of the Data Protection Act. The revised code should be published later in the year.

For the UK – If you require anymore information, we recommend that you contact the Information Commissioner’s Data Protection Helpline on +44 (0) 1625 545745.

This list is by no means exhaustive but offers the installer and user general advice. More detailed advice and guidelines can be found through Info4securitys list of council and police guidelines.