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The UK Surveillance Camera Code of Practice

Posted by Hermione Crone
18th November 2015

As one of the most watched countries in the world, the United Kingdom adheres to a strict code of practice when it comes to surveillance. However, government laws must strike a balance between protecting the public and preserving individual freedom.

To make these laws clearer, updated guidelines were published in 2013 to help regulate the use of cameras around the country. Within the code lies 12 guiding principles which CCTV owners should consider before setting up cameras around their business property or home. These are as follows:


  1. Use of a surveillance camera system must always be for a specified purpose which is in the pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need.
  2. The use of a surveillance camera system must take into account its effect on individuals and their privacy, with regular reviews to ensure it remains justified.
  3. There must be as much transparency in the use of a surveillance camera system as possible, including a published contact point for access to information or complaints.
  4. There must be a clear responsibility and accountability for all surveillance camera system activities including images and information collected, held and used.
  5. Clear rules, policies and procedures must be in place before a surveillance camera system is used, and these must be communicated to all who need to comply with them.
  6. No more images and information should be stored than that which is strictly required for the stated purpose of a surveillance camera system, and such images and information should be deleted once their purposes have been discharged.
  7. Access to retained images and information should be restricted and there must be clearly defined rules on who can gain access and for what purpose such access is granted; the disclosure of images and information should only take place when it is necessary for such a purpose or for law enforcement purposes.
  8. Surveillance camera system operators should consider any approved operational, technical and competency standards relevant to a system and its purpose and work to meet and maintain those standards.
  9. Surveillance camera system images and information should be subject to appropriate security measures to safeguard against unauthorised access and use.
  10. There should be effective review and audit mechanisms to ensure legal requirements, policies and standards are complied with in practice, and regular reports should be published.
  11. When the use of a surveillance camera system is in pursuit of a legitimate aim, and there is a pressing need for its use, it should then be used in the most effective way to support public safety and law enforcement with the aim of processing images and information of evidential value.
  12. Any information used to support a surveillance camera system which compares against a reference database for matching purposes should be accurate and kept up to date.

If you can show that you’ve complied with the above 12 guidelines, as part of the updated 2008 Data Protection Act, you should have nothing to be concerned about regarding your CCTV surveillance. Remember to keep checking for any further legal, practical and technological developments which can alter the above regulations.

Feature image credit: Frédéric BISSON via Flickr.

If you liked this blog post then perhaps you would like to read “Why It Pays To Be A Member of a Neighbourhood Watch

Posted by Hermione Crone
18th November 2015