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13/08/2019

CCTV – Who’s watching you watching them?

In 2018, there were 432,267 burglaries. And that’s only the ones that were formally reported to the police.  This figure is up 2% on 2017 and is slowly creeping up year on year. 

It’s not just your television, jewellery and computers that burglars are after now, either. Most of us store a lot of personal information and data at home, and this could help burglars steal our identity online.  

Scary statistics

There are some seriously scary statistics around burglary in the UK:

  • Most burglars will live within two miles of the properties they target, so they could be somebody you regularly walk past on the street.
  • Catching and convicting burglars is more difficult than ever. In fact, only 14 burglars are arrested for every 100 burglaries reported in the UK.
  • Contrary to popular belief, most burglaries don’t happen at night. In fact, most occur between 9am and 5pm, when people are out at work.

It’s therefore no surprise that we are looking to harness the latest technology to protect our homes and businesses from intruders. We can’t all afford security guards and home sitters, so we are turning to recording devices to deter intruders, or at least get enough evidence to prosecute those who are not deterred. 

You don’t even have to be in

With the increasing popularity of remote CCTV-based security devices, monitoring your own house, whether you are in or not, is becoming a real trend. Most of these devices can be operated from your phone, and you receive a text or email notification if anything unusual happens.

GDPR and CCTV

We are now a year after the General Data Protection Regulation officially kicked in, but many of us are still unclear as to what that means, especially when it comes to the privacy rights of other people.  

As CCTV usually contains images that can be used to identify people, it means that it generally falls under the category of ‘personal data’ in GDPR. The key to avoiding hefty fines is to ensure that your CCTV system is GDPR compliant. In order to do this, you’ll need to make sure you use your system correctly. 

If the camera only records people within your home and garden and is purely for monitoring in a personal / household capacity and is not used in a professional/commercial capacity, fortunately, the data laws don’t apply to you.  This makes it much easier to ensure your home is safe.  But make sure you don’t accidentally break the boundary, which could put you on the wrong side of the law. Make sure you:

  • Disable audio, this can record outside your property and is therefore deemed ‘privacy-intrusive’
  • Prevent the camera from covering your neighbours’ properties or out onto the street where people can pass by

However, if the camera records people and areas outside your home and garden you will need to:

  • Put up adequate signage around any CCTV cameras, advising people that you are using CCTV and the reason why
  • Make sure recordings are only kept for as long as they are relevant
  • Make sure recordings are not used for any purpose other than the crime-prevention purpose clearly stated on your signage. So, don’t use recordings to publicly ‘name and shame’ people online, for example.

You must also respond to what is called ‘subject access requests’ if you receive any. They usually ask for further details of the personal data you hold about them. These requests can come verbally or in writing, but under GDPR you must respond within one month, including deleting any footage they have asked you to remove.  The Surveillance Camera Commissioner recommends that you regularly delete the recordings and do not keep them for longer than is necessary for the protection of your property.

Think about alternatives

Do you really need CCTV at your home? Sometimes, alternatives such as high-quality locks or clever security lighting can be just as effective, if not better, when operating as a deterrent.  

If you choose to install CCTV and are unsure about what you can and cannot do in your situation, seek the help of a lawyer, who will guide you through the best way to go about protecting your property.