Should you install CCTV?
Use of security cameras has increased significantly over recent years, we’re all used to them on the streets and in shops. It is estimated that there are over 6 million cameras across the UK so you might think it’s an easy way to protect your business. But if you’re thinking of installing one there are things you need to consider first.
The Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act must be adhered to when you’re using a surveillance camera. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) issued a code of practice for using surveillance cameras covering the collection, use, processing and deleting of footage.
The ICO recommend the use of a privacy impact assessment at the start of any project involving handling personal data as a method of identifying and reducing the privacy risks.
Think carefully about your reasons, and the benefits offered by surveillance cameras which might not be available through other security measures; can you justify your choice.
Who will be responsible for controlling and managing the footage? Who has access to it, where will it be stored and how secure is it? If it is likely to be used as evidence in court you should consider keeping an audit trail.
And of course, how long will you keep the footage before it is deleted? There isn’t a specific retention time for footage, however it must only be kept as long as necessary for the purpose of which it was collected. Any footage not required as evidence should be deleted in the shortest period possible.
Will cameras be monitored in real time or only viewed if a problem occurs? It may be worth considering the services of a private security company to monitor your surveillance cameras as they will then be able to respond to any incidents.
Adequate signage should be displayed informing of CCTV cameras in operation. These can also act as a deterrent to potential thieves.
Subject access requests
Anyone who has been recorded has the right to view footage of themselves. When this is applied for the request must be processed within 40 days. Staff involved in the management of surveillance footage should be trained to handle these requests.
Benefits of CCTV
Despite the legal considerations and requirements, installing surveillance cameras as part of your complete security system can be an effective way to protect your business providing you with the following benefits.
- Deterring criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, in particular opportunistic thieves or vandals might think twice if they see cameras in operation
- Improving alarm response; when CCTV is monitored by your security company they can tailor the response to address the specific activity
- Providing peace of mind for business owners, managers and staff, especially if there are lone workers on site or the location has a high crime rate. Knowledge that the cameras are being monitored and response teams ready to be deployed gives additional security.
- Gathering evidence of any criminal activity for prosecution purposes
- Helping to lower insurance premiums by demonstrating sufficient security provisions
- Reducing security costs by using a monitored CCTV system instead of lots of security guards on site 24 hours a day.