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Human Rights and CCTV

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 21 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Cctv Uk Human Rights Civil Liberties

The use of CCTV in the UK, and its impact on human rights and civil liberties, regularly hits the headlines. Concerns are raised both about the number of CCTV cameras in the UK and the lack of regulation regarding their use. The UK’s coalition government have said that they intend to introduce a programme of government which sees greater protection for, and a restoration of, civil liberties in the UK. Amongst the areas they have said that they intend to address is an increase in the regulation of CCTV use.

UK – CCTV Nation?

Research conducted in 2002 suggested that there were 4.2 million CCTV cameras in the UK – equating to one CCTV camera for every 14 people. So startling was this statistic that it has been seized upon by critics of CCTV ever since. However, this figure was based on an extrapolation from a survey conducted in one area of London and now seems likely to be unreliable.

Comprehensive records of the number of CCTV cameras in the UK are not kept but a 2009 report suggested that the true figure for CCTV cameras in the UK is about 3.2 million. Whilst this represents a significant drop from the earlier estimate it is widely accepted as proof that the UK has more CCTV cameras than any other country in the world.

Who is Using CCTV?

The principal use of CCTV cameras may be by the police and other public authorities to combat crime and antisocial behaviour. However, private businesses – and even individuals – are increasingly turning to CCTV as a means of monitoring and protecting their property. Advances in CCTV technology have resulted in cameras that may have face recognition capabilities, allowing individuals to be picked out of a crowd from a database, or which can monitor for particular types of, suspicious, behaviour.

Are CCTV Cameras a Deterrent?

Despite the advances in technology some remain sceptical about the efficacy of CCTV in reducing the level of crime. If cameras are everywhere people may become inured to them and they may lose their deterrent effect. In addition, the cameras must be constantly maintained in order for useful data to be produced by them. Firm evidence that the use of CCTV cameras in the UK has had a positive impact on crime figures has not been forthcoming.

Human Rights and the Use of CCTV

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerns the right to family and private life. This includes the right to respect for an individual’s home and correspondence. The right contained in Article 8 is known as a qualified right which means that there may be circumstances in which some interference with it is justifiable. This right means that an individual has the right to the level of personal privacy which is compatible with a democratic society, taking into account the equivalent rights and freedoms of others. Any interference with this right by a public authority may be subject to a test of acceptability.

The state and public authorities are permitted to interfere with an individual’s Article 8 right to privacy if the interference has an obvious legal justification. Amongst other reasons, this could be because the interference is necessary to protect national security or for the prevention of crime. In addition to having a clear legal justification, the amount of interference with the right must be proportionate to the end result achieved and only go as far as is required to achieve that result.

Public authorities, including the police and local councils, must balance the benefits of using CCTV against an individual’s right to privacy.

CCTV and Data Protection

The problem for an individual’s personal privacy is that if a camera is installed by a private company or an individual to monitor their own property there is little legal protection for any individual being observed by it. Nonetheless, there may be issues regarding the use and storage of any images captured by the CCTV camera.

The Data Protection Act 1998 governs the use of CCTV equipment and any data produced or stored by it. The Act is likely to apply if a CCTV camera is set up, in public place, to capture everything that passes in front of it. The owner of the CCTV equipment will have to comply with any relevant provisions of the Act. However, a householder who sets up a CCTV camera for purely “domestic purposes” may not have to comply with the Data Protection Act. The only recourse for an individual who feels they are being unreasonably targeted by such a CCTV camera – for example one belonging to an unfriendly neighbour - could be to make a complaint to the police about harassment.

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[Add a Comment]
Scotte - Your Question:
My neighbour in the block of flats I live in put a brick through my window and following this had the nerve to I stall CCTV around the block which is s social housing property. On of his cameras he put facing down into my garden my social landlord says there's nothing they can do? What rights do I have, this camera observes me going about my business, I feel very venerable.

Our Response:
You can check with the Information Commissioner's office to see whether your neighbour has a licence if he is capturing CCTV footage beyone his own property boundaries. The police may also be able to come and check the siting of the cameras and ask the neighbour to remove them if they are infringing your privacy.
AboutHumanRights - 24-Oct-17 @ 10:52 AM
My neighbour in the block of flats i live in put a brick through my window and following this had the nerve to i stall CCTV around the block which is s social housing property. On of his cameras he put facing down into my garden my social landlord says there's nothing they can do? What rights do i have, this camera observes me going about my business, i feel very venerable.
Scotte - 21-Oct-17 @ 12:45 PM
denzc - Your Question:
I live in apartment building and there are cctv everywhere the elevators ,the pool, exersize area I don't want to be recorded. What are my rights.

Our Response:
As long as you're aware of the CCTV and it's only in communal areas then there's not a great deal you can do about. It will have been installed for safety and security purposes. CCTV should not be in changing rooms or toilets.
AboutHumanRights - 20-Sep-17 @ 12:46 PM
I live in apartment building and there are cctv everywhere theelevators ,the pool, exersize areaI don't want to be recorded. What are my rights.
denzc - 19-Sep-17 @ 9:12 PM
My brother is considering carrying a mini camera around at home to protect from domestic abuse by his wife. Is this legal?
Chrissy - 7-Jul-17 @ 4:56 PM
Angie - Your Question:
Arriva Yorkshire have just upgraded some on their buses and they are now displaying the on board CCTV via a large screen on the upper deck. The driver informed me they are rolling this particular upgrade out to all Arriva buses. Is this not a privacy issue?

Our Response:
Probably not because you can the see what's going on around you anyway.
AboutHumanRights - 28-Jun-17 @ 11:15 AM
Arriva Yorkshire have just upgraded some on their buses and they are now displaying the on board CCTV via a large screen on the upper deck. The driver informed me they are rolling this particular upgrade out to all Arriva buses. Is this not a privacy issue?
Angie - 26-Jun-17 @ 6:06 PM
I was informed by my local pub landlord that he is recording conversations on his CCTV system. Is this legal?
Topcabby - 25-May-17 @ 1:50 PM
Melanie - Your Question:
I am a private hire driver. My local authority has deemed that we all install CCTV. To their specification. They must record front and rear, cannot be turned off by the driver and be connected to the vehicles electronics. My ph vehicle is also my private vehicle, so I think my personal privacy is being infringed.

Our Response:
Check with your local council about the rules for this, or how they will work. It maybe that the cameras only operate when your fare calculator is switched on??
AboutHumanRights - 3-Mar-17 @ 2:19 PM
I am a private hire driver.My local authority has deemed that we all install CCTV.To their specification.They must record front and rear, cannot be turned off by the driver and be connected to the vehicles electronics.My ph vehicle is also my private vehicle, so I think my personal privacy is being infringed.
Melanie - 1-Mar-17 @ 7:48 PM
Hi I got a call from my son's school today saying he hit a teacher today and had i be restrained my son's story and the teachers story are very different I've asked to watch the cctv and they've told me i can in case other children are on there my son states no other child were round do i have the right to see whathappened with my son
Dee - 9-Feb-17 @ 7:44 PM
My son has been dismissed. He worked for a private company in a shop where the use of cctv is used for the monitoring of crime. No impact assessment has been carried out with staff and there is no company policy except a privacy policy which says we will protect your data. One day his manager came in and decided to view a months worth of cctv and saw my son arriving late and early, out of uniform, other staff arriving late and the shop floor unmanned. Photo stills were taken as evidence. We have made a Sar request for the cctv footage and they have not produced it. They purposely waited 3 weeks to pursue disciplinary proceedings and the footage is automatically deleted after 32 days.
Jaimattie - 5-Feb-17 @ 9:38 AM
Geoff - Your Question:
I live at home with my two younger sisters and my mother who works long hours, therefore she isn't always home and neither am I. My neighbour lives on his own and has cameras on the front and back of his house which light up as you walk past. He also has a dog barking effect to any movement at the front of the house and a camera on his car. I am beginning to feel intimidated by the fact he knows when we are in or out of the house all the time. I understand he may feel more secure with the cameras but considering we do not live in an exactly well off area it is worrying. Is their cause for concern?

Our Response:
It's probably not a cause for concern, but if you feel the neighbour's camera is capturing your everyday movements, you should mention it to your local police or police community support officer. They do have powers to ask to look at the cameras and their siting and can request that they are re-positioned.
AboutHumanRights - 13-Dec-16 @ 2:42 PM
I live at home with my two younger sisters and my mother who works long hours, therefore she isn't always home and neither am I. My neighbour lives on his own and has cameras on the front and back of his house which light up as you walk past. He also has a dog barking effect to any movement at the front of the house and a camera on his car. I am beginning to feel intimidated by the fact he knows when we are in or out of the house all the time. I understand he may feel more secure with the cameras but considering we do not live in an exactly well off area it is worrying. Is their cause for concern?
Geoff - 12-Dec-16 @ 11:13 PM
Steve - Your Question:
A work colleague is about to be disciplined following a customer complaint. The customer had a dash cam running in his car while the car was in a staff only area (workshop) the colleague was picked up swearing by the dash cam and the customer has lodged a formal complaint leading to disciplinary action. Is the recording of the colleague without their knowledge or permission illegal?

Our Response:
This depends on the location. Why was a customer in a staff only area?
AboutHumanRights - 7-Sep-16 @ 11:11 AM
A work colleague is about to be disciplined following a customer complaint. The customer had a dash cam running in his car while the car was in a staff only area (workshop) the colleague was picked up swearing by the dash cam and the customer has lodged a formal complaint leading to disciplinary action. Is the recording of the colleague without their knowledge or permission illegal?
Steve - 6-Sep-16 @ 9:10 AM
I have been going to a local supermarket in my area ever since I was a child. They have only recently started scrutinising me and sending the Security guard to follow me around the store. I often see him talking in his walkie-talkie about my whereabouts like I'm some sort of suspected criminal. I have no doubt that they record me and ensure that all CCTV footage of me is being monitored. Someone please tell me what I should do because I know that I have done nothing wrong, and I would stop going there but I can't because the only make up products that I can use are from that store. Help please!!!
Seoulover - 24-Jul-16 @ 9:57 PM
When I made civil complaint a year ago on the discontent of security staff of a department store in Korea, I am confident they revenged me by posting my CCTV face recognition nationwide. When I requested confirmation and help to some local police stations, they told me “it’s nonsense. Such thing could not happen” and some told me “we cannot help you because you are not in an urgent situation.” Police station said to me that I had to bring evidences to file my case. They linked information to integrated control center to track me and to show unpleasant behavior and expression to me. After a year of anger and frustration, I went to Japan for leisure and business purpose. They seem to deliver my information to them. And, I am sure that they put my face recognition to Australia and Singapore when I went to Australia via Singapore. For that reason, I ask your help. When I visit you, I am sure they will spread out my information there too. Could you give me evidence of distribution of my information for report purpose?
seoul - 27-Mar-16 @ 1:03 PM
hello I live in as block of flats and the managing company put in ccvtv cameras against our wishesthey have one that is facing the front door of old couple in there 80s which is disturbing for them as they are on the camera whenever tthey or any visitors come or go from the flat they are a harmless couple and do not deserve to be spied on in such a way can you advise on any action that could be taken to get it moved
big al - 3-Dec-15 @ 7:43 PM
Rman - Your Question:
I am working at the private school. The school president implemented the installations of cctv camera in our school. Hallways, corridors and gates were installed by surveillance camera. Even the the faculty rooms were also installed by this camera for the purpose that she wants see the action of each employee every time of the day. Does it serve the purpose? Does it violate our rights to privacy? No one can voice out about the matter because we all fear our school president. Is there any law in the Philippines that doesn't fit this act that violates our human rights. All of us were bothered because we can't even act naturally in our workplace. Any comment please.

Our Response:
As long as you are aware of the cameras and their purpose this should not contravene any rights you have. CCTVs should not be used areas where you normally expect privacy - such as in changing rooms or toilets except under exceptional circumstances.
AboutHumanRights - 12-Oct-15 @ 1:58 PM
I am working at the private school.The school president implemented the installations of cctv camera in our school.Hallways, corridors and gates were installed by surveillance camera.Even the the faculty rooms were also installed by this camera for the purpose that she wants see the action of each employee every time of the day.Does it serve the purpose?Does it violate our rights to privacy? No one can voice out about the matter because we all fear our school president. Is there any law in the Philippines that doesn't fit this act that violates our human rights.All of us were bothered because we can't even act naturally in our workplace.Any comment please.
Rman - 11-Oct-15 @ 5:01 PM
I'm hoping someone can help clear something up for my partner. It relates to CCTV use in a public area. The monitors he has to watch are part of a large supermarket chain but his station has been moved placing it in the middle of a high foot traffic area where anyone can see the monitor and see what he is watching. This seems really very wrong to me and he has received several complaints from members of the public. Are his managers allowed to do this as they have no idea about security anyway and always just do as they please! Thank you.
An on - 24-May-15 @ 1:10 PM
@Ells. Do you have proof that they were actually filming/photographing you? If you are worried ask them about it, then contact the police if you are not happy.
AboutHumanRights - 19-Dec-14 @ 11:23 AM
My neighbour has been videoing me while I have been in my front garden and also has taken photos of me while I was in my back garden.Are they allowed to do this?
ells - 18-Dec-14 @ 9:19 PM
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