30 January 2018
CCTV and the Human Rights Act: What you need to know
CCTV is everywhere in the UK. Although accurate figures are
hard to come by, some reports have estimated there to be almost six million cameras watching
the population – roughly one for every 11 people.
It’s not difficult to see why, as a security measure, CCTV is so popular: it’s
cost-effective and it works. But the rapid spread of surveillance over the past
ten years has caused many members of the public to question their rights to
For any business considering CCTV, then, and those using it already, it’s crucial
to understand the legal implications. And namely, how it fits within the Human
Rights Act 1998.
Article 8 – A right to privacy
The piece of legislation with the biggest impact on CCTV use
in the UK is Article
8 of the Human Rights Act, which was introduced in 2000 and reads:
Right to respect for private and family life
1. Everyone has the right to respect for his
private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public
authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with
the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national
security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the
prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for
the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
It’s fair to say these points above are vague, so while they
exist to benefit all of us on an individual level, it’s understandably hard for
businesses to know exactly what they can and can’t do. It will help, however,
to consider the following principles before implementing a CCTV system.
Is or would your use of CCTV be proportionate to the
security threat posed to yourself, your staff and members of the public? Consider
how many cameras you need to install, and where they’re placed on the premises
– and even think about whether they’re necessary at all.
Although Article 8 is the most noteworthy part of the Human
Rights Act when it comes to CCTV, there are other guidelines to follow. All
operators should be fully aware of and signed up to the government’s Surveillance
Camera Code of Practice (June 2013), for example. It covers human rights
matters as well as data protection, the PACE Act 1984 and the Criminal
Procedures and Investigations Act 1986.
You’re fully accountable for your use of CCTV, so be sure to
keep accurate and comprehensive records of action – including any factors that
have influenced decisions. Your monitoring should be open to scrutiny at all
Make it clear to staff, members of the public and anyone
else who may be affected that they’re being monitored for appropriate reasons,
and that you’re aware of and adhering to the relevant legislation and codes of
Ask yourself once again, is your use of CCTV justified?
Cameras can be extremely effective in preventing crime and protecting people,
but there may be other measures that better suit your situation and don’t
require you to monitor in this way. Think about access control, for
example. It’s all about minimising the effect you have on people’s privacy
wherever and whenever possible.
We’re here to help
We’ve been supplying high-spec, effective security solutions
to businesses of all kinds and sizes for more than 30 years now, and we’re
experts in CCTV. If you need help choosing the right system, or have questions
about how best to use CCTV within your organisation, get in touch today.