There are rules and regulations regarding CCTV images and their use, including the rights of people filmed on such cameras. The Data Protection Act largely covers the laws of CCTV.
Rules for using CCTV cameras
- It is crucial that CCTV operators make sure people know that the cameras are in use. You probably notice ‘CCTV’ signs in many places; this is the most common way of making people aware of the cameras.
- In areas where you normally expect privacy, such as changing rooms and toilets, CCTV can only be used in exceptional circumstances.
- CCTV cameras should not record general conversations between members of the public.
Rules for CCTV operators
- CCTV operators must ensure that somebody within the organisation is responsible for the CCTV images; deciding what is recorded, who images should be disclosed to and how they should be used.
- There should be clear procedures on how to use the system and when to disclose information.
- Running regular checks to ensure the procedures are followed is also important.
CCTV images – when can they be disclosed?
- You have the right to request CCTV images of yourself; this is known as a Subject Access Request. Then the organisation must provide the footage within 30 days. You must provide details to help the operator find the images on their system and to ensure you are the person in the images.
- Sometimes, an organisation needs to disclose images from CCTV for legal purposes e.g. solving a crime. Once the footage has passed to another organisation, that organisation must obey the Data Protection Act in handling the images.
- CCTV operators cannot disclose footage of identifiable people to the media for entertainment. Nor can they post such images on the internet for similar reasons. Nevertheless, CCTV images are sometimes uploaded to the internet to help identify a person and such images are usually disclosed by the police.
- Since public authorities are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, members of the public can request official information by sending a letter or email. The public authority must then reply within 20 working days.
- Organisations should have a retention policy and only keep CCTV images for as long as necessary to satisfy the purpose of recording them.
How can CCTV images help with Personal Injury claims?
James Hardy in our Personal Injury team said: “Circumstances surrounding accidents are often disputed. As a matter of best practice and to ensure that we get the best possible outcome for our clients, we always check with the Local Authorities and local businesses to see if CCTV evidence is available as this can be a valuable piece of evidence.”
James urges that you check for obvious, nearby cameras if you’re involved in an accident.
“Remember that CCTV evidence will only be held for so long. Therefore, it is important that you check as soon as possible following an accident”, he added.