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CCTV is a crucial asset in commercial security. It has multiple applications across many different business sectors from deterring break-ins to capturing high definition footage of suspicious activity. However, company managers do have a responsibility to adhere to UK laws around how they use CCTV.
There are several essential considerations, from informing staff about live video recording to deciding how to store and use data collected. In a world where we must be diligent about upholding data protection laws, it is vital to think about what footage you are capturing, and why.
Surveillance imagery captured on a domestic property, via CCTV at your home, is treated differently from commercial data. So it is critical to review the relevant legislation and ensure you are not in breach of any rules.
The Rules of Commercial CCTV Usage
Let’s run through the essential rules, what they mean for your commercial CCTV, and how to ensure you remain compliant.
- Data Protection Laws, Procedures and Policies
We’re all likely aware of GDPR and the Data Protection Act 1998, and how businesses must inform people about the data we collect about them, how it is processed, where it is stored, and for what purposes.
Imagery and information about people’s movements captured through CCTV are considered personal data if identified as relevant to a named individual. Therefore, it is vital to clarify whether you are filming the workforce, or whether your CCTV is only activated outside of working hours.
For example, if you have CCTV in your car park and are capturing details about private number plates, this might be considered personal data.
To ensure you use your CCTV responsibly, you must inform relevant personnel when your CCTV is live and if you will record their movements. Likewise, people have the right to request access to information that identifies them and request it be destroyed.
The right to know if you are being filmed at work is a requirement of the Human Rights Act 1998.
CCTV Filming Rules
In a nutshell, you cannot secretly film people. If you have a CCTV system, it makes sense to erect signage in key positions, to harness the potential of surveillance as a criminal deterrent.
Such signage is also a lawful requirement. Visitors, passers-by, authorised pedestrians, and workforce members must be aware if live CCTV recording is taking place.
You may not record private conversations unless in exceptional circumstances, and must not install CCTV in inappropriate places, such as in a restroom.
Sharing CCTV Footage
There needs to be a named individual responsible for the management of any CCTV footage you collect. That could be a member of your security team, a manager, or a business owner. You need to register this person as your nominated Data Controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
It is important to select somebody with the appropriate level of authority, and ensure this is not a team member who should not have access to information about staff movements. For instance, a junior staff member would not be considered suitably authorised to make data capture decisions.
CCTV operators may not share any footage that identifies individuals on any form of public media. Footage should only be transferred if requested by the police, and in that scenario, the imagery remains subject to the rules of the Data Protection Act. You should safely store it without allowing access to any unauthorised viewers.
Capturing Footage of Other Properties
In most cases, CCTV only ever captures movements on your own premises. However, in some cases, a camera might pan out to capture a triggered sensor or focus on a neighbouring property or piece of land.
Should this occur, or be possible, you need to make sure you are compliant with data protection rules.
That means making sure neighbouring businesses know that CCTV is in operation, having visible signs around the areas under surveillance, and ensuring that your cameras do not surreptitiously or intentionally capture any imagery outside of the purposes of your CCTV as set out in your policy.
Remaining compliant with the Data Protection Act is vital for the lawful, ongoing use of CCTV.
The key measures are to erect signs to inform any people accessing your site, or neighbouring properties, that you have live CCTV recording facilities.
You should also open a dialogue with any nearby businesses or properties to explain when your CCTV is in operation, the scope of the surveillance, and how data captured is stored, managed and processed.
How Long Can CCTV Be Kept For?
There are no specific rules about how long you can retain CCTV footage since this depends on what footage you have captured, and for what purpose.
- Generally, 30 or 31 days is seen as the recommended standard.
- Suppose you have captured an incident that requires investigation or reporting to the authorities. In that case, you should keep this for at least 14 days to give sufficient time for the police or another service to review the footage.
- You should set out how long your video footage is stored for in a company policy, in line with your surveillance reasons.
- In general, you should always expect to store footage for no longer than six months unless in specific circumstances, such as a more extended investigation.
During any period of storage, you still need to be mindful about protecting the privacy of any individuals captured in that footage. It must not be shared, uploaded to any public networks, or disseminated in any format unless required for appropriate action to be taken.
Your appointed Data Controller must implement sufficient security measures to keep video captures free from tampering and only accessible to suitably authorised personnel.
The Safe Usage of CCTV in the Workplace
While it might feel that there are lots of rules and regulations around CCTV usage, in reality, these measures are all simple to achieve with clear oversight about what your CCTV system is intended to capture, and why.
Installing signage, informing staff about when and how CCTV is in operation, and implementing a company policy covering your surveillance strategies is essential.
If in any doubt about your data protection obligations, you can access more information from the ICO explaining the role of a Data Controller, and how to ensure you get the maximum benefit from your CCTV while being mindful of information security.
For more help with the safe installation of CCTV, get in touch with the Clearway security team for independent advice about the ideal solutions to protect your business.