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The Do’s and Don’ts of Secret Cameras in the Home and Office

Posted by Hermione Crone
10th August 2016

Small surveillance cameras are used to capture footage without the intended target knowing they’re being filmed. Commonly planted in care homes to ensure elderly relatives aren’t being mistreated, the use of these secret cameras at home and in the workplace is also starting to grow.

Secret cameras have become widely accessible in recent years. They can manifest in various guises, from USB memory sticks and sunglasses, to burglar alarms and smoke detectors. Under these façades, images and video are obtained to prove criminal activity and press charges.

It’s no wonder that some home and business owners have begun using secret cameras to discover what’s really going on when they’re not around. If you’re thinking of planting such a device, here is a run through of some do’s and don’ts to consider before rushing in.

In the Home

Do… Make sure you know the legal requirements of installing secret cameras in the home. It is generally acceptable to install cameras on your own property in the United Kingdom; however, footage must only be used for the primary security reason it was intended for in the first place.

Don’t… Install cameras in areas of the home where people can expect privacy, principally a bathroom or changing area. This applies especially in circumstances if you accommodate a live-in babysitter or are entertaining guests.

Consider privacy ethics when filming people inside your home.

Image credit: golubovy via 123RF

Do… Install a secret camera only when there is a legitimate reason for doing so. This often comes in the form of checking a baby or pet-sitter. You can inform them they’re being recorded, or keep it secret in the hope of catching them in the act.

Don’t… Install external CCTV that could take footage or record conversations of the public. Likewise, pointing a camera at a neighbour’s front door may also fall foul of the Human Rights Act. Only keep the data for as long as it’s needed and never release it to a third party.

In The Office

Do… Understand your legal rights and responsibilities as a business owner. You are actually allowed to monitor employees through in-house CCTV, although it must be done in the correct manner – i.e. to ensure company policy isn’t broken or to prevent crime.

Don’t… Use secret cameras without informing staff members – this is very rarely legal. It should go without saying that secret filming in staff toilets or changing rooms is unlawful, except in circumstances where you suspect serious crime (such as drug dealing) is taking place.

Remember to tell staff they're being watched.

Image credit: andreypopov via 123RF

Do… Inform staff they’re being watched wherever cameras are positioned. Document this in the Contract of Employment and company Code of Conduct. Outline why CCTV cameras are being used, who can access their data and how staff can voice any concerns regarding their presence.

Don’t… Use any footage for purposes other than originally intended, namely to enforce company policy and perhaps prove a claim against someone. Any images that infringe privacy rights or are released to third parties become illegal and could result in a prosecution.

If you found this useful, you may also be interested in our article outlining the UK Surveillance Code of Practice.

Posted by Hermione Crone
10th August 2016