Do I Need Permission To Install CCTV?Posted on Monday 16th November 2020
You do not usually require permission to install CCTV, unless your property is listed (when you will require listed building consent) or if you rent it (when you should gain permission from the building owner). There are, however, some important points that you should know before you commit to having a system, covering data protection, system security and the appropriateness of the camera’s installed. The level of responsibilities you will take on will also depend upon what property you are planning to install your CCTV system on.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulatory body responsible for overseeing information rights in the public interest. They regulate and enforce the UK’s data laws. By installing a CCTV system you will have to comply with their guidelines, and in the case of businesses and organisations, will need to register with them.
Designing the System:
Responsibilities differ, depending on what type of property you have:
- Private Domestic Property;
- Public Spaces;
- Commercial Businesses;
- Farming and other non-private Domestic Settings.
If your CCTV system is within the boundaries of your private property (including the garden), then you do not need permission to install it. You do need to operate it in a respectful and responsible manner, and design it to have as little impact on areas outside of your property as possible.
The ICO recommends that you set up the system to offer the most privacy to others’. Asking for an experienced CCTV installation company to design the system for you will mean that you get the most effective surveillance cover on your domestic property. After an initial site survey, the company should send you a design proposal that covers all of your needs. This is usually completed free-of-charge & with no obligation to commit.
Before committing to a CCTV system, you should consider the following:
Will any of the camera locations capture images outside the boundary of your property?
If you cannot avoid capturing images beyond the boundaries of your property, then you will be subject to the data protection laws. This may be areas such as a neighbour’s property, shared spaces, footpaths or a street or road. You are still able to install the surveillance equipment, and will not be breaking the law, but it does mean that you will become a “Data Controller”, and will need to comply with legal obligations that go with this under the data protection laws – the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the DPA18 (Data Protection Act 2018). This may be requests such as Subject Access Requests (SARs), where an individual may make an application to you to access their personal data (in this case, the CCTV images of them). You will have a time-limit of one month to comply with their enquiry.
You will need to put up signs to inform people that they are being recorded, have a secure way of capturing and storing the images, and not keep them for longer than necessary. ORP can advise on the best storage system to suit you, and we supply signage as part of our installation.
Cameras can be fitted with a privacy screening algorithm which masks part of the CCTV images where members of the public might be captured. This is useful as it means that a camera can be fitted in the most appropriate location for the private property, giving the highest level of security, but without recording images of people not on the property.
For more information on using CCTV responsibly at your private domestic property, use this link to the ICO’s website:
Is your home listed?
If any part of your property is listed, then you will need to check with the relevant historical building’s body (such as Cadw in Wales, NHLE in England, HERoNI in Northern Ireland, or HES in Scotland), and go through the appropriate planning applications for this.
Security systems in public spaces such as on streets and footpaths in towns, in parks and play areas, and ANPR cameras on roads, are favoured by police and beneficial to the council in deterring antisocial behaviour. Ensuring that members of the public are protected and not impinged upon by a CCTV system takes careful planning. The system needs to be operated transparently and have clear policies and procedures in place, including if the system in place is solely for ANPR (Automatic Numberplate Recognition) cameras, and for surveillance in public buildings such as libraries and town halls.
Installing CCTV in public spaces is decided upon by councillors of a local authority. Planning should be sort from the appropriate local authorities, as well as from owners of any buildings that have been indicated as appropriate positions to have cameras installed on them.
The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 includes regulations for public space surveillance in England and Wales, and aims to balance the need for cameras in public spaces with individuals’ right to privacy. A public space CCTV system needs to adhere to this act.
- Complete a PIA (Privacy Impact Assessment) for the proposed system;
- Put in place rules, policies and procedures before the system is implemented;
- Careful camera positioning with clear objectives as to the purpose for the camera;
- Keep track of where cameras have been deployed;
- Appropriate signs should be in place, which includes basic contact information;
- Have a clear point of contact where enquiries such as SARs can be directed;
- CCTV operators need to have a valid SIA licence;
- Access to the images must be restricted;
- Images should be encrypted and stored securely;
- Images should not be kept for longer than necessary;
- Have a maintenance contract in place;
- Ensure an audit trail for the images.
For more information, please see the Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s “Surveillance Camera Code of Practice – A Guide for Councillors”, found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/498895/SCC_Councillors_Guide_-_February_2016.pdf
Businesses, organisations (such as charities) and sole traders are permitted to install CCTV without planning permission, excepting where their property is listed. You will need to register with the ICO. Depending upon your business size, this costs between £40.00 and £2,900.00 per year (micro, small and medium sized businesses pay no more than £60.00) and is a data registration fee.
Usually, a business installing CCTV on its site will mean that it is subject to data laws (GDPR and DPA18). Even if your business is installing the CCTV for process monitoring (such as surveying a packing area or machine process) you will usually fall into a Data Controller bracket.
It is advisable, prior to installing the system, to complete the ICO’s CCTV Checklist
(found here - https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-self-assessment/cctv-checklist/ ). This will identify any parts of being a Data Controller that you may not have thought of.
Some important points to think about when designing your system:
- Employees and visitors to your site will still expect to have full privacy in some areas such as social areas and changing rooms.
- The image quality should be high and the pictures clear. As well as installing cameras that are of good quality and with a sufficient megapixel image, this also means siting the cameras in an optimum location.
- Audible surveillance is usually considered to be more invasive to that of images alone – installing a system that records sound requires serious thought and should only be done when there is clear justification in doing so.
- The type of camera installed – whether a PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom camera), fixed (bullet or turret camera), or ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition camera) needs to appropriately fit the use it has been installed for.
- The system’s storage should be sufficient to retain recorded images for long enough to be used for any incidents, but they should be disposed of securely when no longer required. On a modern IP system, images are usually permanently deleted from the recording box after the required retention time.
- The recording box should be situated in a secure location, and only those with clearance should have access to the images. The images should be encrypted.
- You should have clear signage displayed showing that you have a CCTV system in operation, including your business details.
- Consider additional deterrents to trespassers, such as good lighting, alarms, and upgrading locks. Also consider employing a remote guarding company, who will monitor your CCTV and alert key holders by telephone and email should they spot any unusual activity on site.
Agricultural properties fall somewhere between a domestic setting and a business, in terms of CCTV installation.
Whilst the CCTV may be used for domestic security, the likelihood is that cameras will also be used to monitor livestock (for example, having cameras in livestock sheds during lambing, calving or foaling, or in a poultry unit), as well to protect high valued business assets such as machinery. There is also a likelihood of the CCTV capturing employees and visiting contractors. Due to these factors, although you will not require permission to install the CCTV (other than if the property is listed or from the building owner), it would be advisable to register with the ICO and install signs to inform people of the CCTV in operation.
Farms are often targeted by trespassers, and whilst a CCTV system is extremely helpful in providing evidence of a crime to the police and in assisting with asset recovery, you should also think of any possible deterrents to trespassers that you could install. This could be sufficient lighting around the farm, making sure buildings are securely locked, and alarms which give out a loud warning noise.
Choose an installation company that is experienced in designing agricultural systems, as the nature of many farms can often be complex. The company should also be able to indicate where alarms (silent alarms to your phone or computer or audible alarms) and lighting may be beneficial. Modern IP systems also connect remotely to your tablet, laptop and mobile phone, and send email and text alerts to you whenever a sensor is triggered. This means that as well as having a live stream being recorded in the farm office, you can also connect into the system to view images live from wherever you are, and be alerted immediately if anybody is on site. You can set these to be timed – for example only sending alerts outside of working hours – to suit you.
ORP supply cameras which, when triggered outside of working hours, sound a loud recorded voice through the camera’s speakers at the same time as flooding the area with bright light. We have found these compact cameras to be extremely efficient at driving away opportunistic trespassers.
After Installation – System Upkeep:
Once the system has been installed and you have all relevant signs in place, it can be easy to forget about it. But part of owning a CCTV system is the maintenance and upkeep of it. Should you ever need to use the images (such as if the police request images as evidence) then you will need to ensure that:
- The date and time on the recordings are correct (including time changes between BST and GMT);
- There is an audit trail for the images;
- That you have sufficient recording space for your system size;
- The cameras are clean and well maintained – free from dust and cobwebs;
- That the position of each camera is still valid – make sure that vegetation growth or the addition of a building or lighting to the area has not made a camera’s position obsolete.
ORP Surveillance have been operating since 1998, and offer a free survey and bespoke design to suit your site. We have professional installation engineers and an in-house cherry picker van to reduce the costs associated with installing cameras at height. We pride ourselves on our excellent installation and after-install services.