Question CCTV and the LAW

Bonza

Novice Member
Hi people,

I wonder if you can help at all?

I installed a CCTV camera (on the side of my house) pointing at the street after my car got broken into and a few of the neighbors cars as well, they were OK with it, before I installed it I went and spoke to them about it and they totally understood why I was installing it.

I was concerned at first that I might be breaking the law, but after reading on the Gov.co.uk web site regarding CCTV then I think I ticked all the boxes.

It had been there for a few years and from time to time I had the police knocking at my door asking if they could view the footage from a certain time as there had been a crime committed down the road they were keen to see if I'd caught anything on the footage.

They never mentioned anything about the law and in fact they were happy that there was CCTV in the area as it helps to cut crime and as a deterrent.

So that's a background to the camera that's outside.

Now for the interesting bit, I live in a small block of flats where there are 2 residents upstairs (me and an old lady) and 2 people downstairs. (one is a lease holder who's a busy body) and the other person is never here.

Lived here for about 5 years or so, and from time to time I'd come home to find that plants that were potted and sat outside the front of my flat had been tampered with, or moved, also from time to time there was rubbish, crisp packets and paper etc. around my front door.

So after speaking with the old lady that lives on the landing I asked her permission if she would mind me installing a camera that covers the upstairs landing and the stairs, she was happy with it, she said that it makes her feel more comfortable in knowing that her door is covered (she mentioned that before I moved in she had suspicion that the "lease holder" was creeping around upstairs on a night time) and a while back she had to call the police as the main front door had been left open and some random chav was knocking on her door and asking for his brother, she called the police and they came and nicked him.

So I installed this camera outside my front door that covers the landing upstairs, her front door and mine, I'm kind of at the back of the block so you'd have to make it up the stairs to be able to access my door thus capturing "people" coming up the stairs.

Since installing this camera in November there has been no more rubbish or plants being moved. coincidence? I think not.....

This is now the exciting part, the "lease holder" that lives down stairs said "If i install a camera he's going to his local MP" and I said OK what ever, after checking numerous web sites as long as I am following the guide lines from the gov web site with the footage and how it's stored and erased I can't see where I am going wrong, after all the first part of the guideline says "An individual has the right to protect their property and this can be done by using a CCTV system where it is necessary, such as a security measure." A CCTV system to protect a domestic dwelling from acts of crime and anti-social behavior is now commonplace.

So I get a telephone call from the housing office (I am a council tenant) and he says "Hello, we have had an anonymous complaint that you have installed a CCTV camera to which I answer yes that's correct, and then he says "have you asked for permission?" and I said no, who and why do I need to ask for permission from? he says that with it being inside the block then I need to ask permission for it, to which I replied and said "what do you know regarding the law on CCTV?" to which he replied "I don't know any thing about the laws"?

I laughed and mentioned the CCTV camera that's been installed on the outside of the property and the police viewing the footage etc. to which he didn't really have any reply to that, i said if I'd been breaking the law then I'm sure the police would have mentioned that when viewing the footage.

So that was back in November, now this is the interesting part, I view the "captured" footage once in a while and just view the "motion detected" parts that it's captured and on Monday I see a guy that has been let in the block by the lease holder downstairs and he's started taking photo's of my camera and the landing, he then opens a window and pretends to check it locks, I have a feeling that he's from the housing and that he's been doing a random block inspection to which I am now waiting for a letter......

as far as I can find online on the guidance of installing and monitoring a CCTV system then I'm well within my rights to protect my property.

If you need to ask for permission for these to be installed then surly all manufacturers that make cameras would have a warning on the box "check local laws" etc.

Sorry for the long post but I just thought it best you get a clear picture of what is going on?

Thanks
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
On a private premises I would agree that you are correct. As a tennant in a Council owned block of flats / apartments that is a different issue. The landlord has duties with regard informing other service users of the use of CCTV within the building complex and if that is outside his control, that may also pose legal issues as he has no control over it.

As you do not own the space that you are pointing your camera at other users, using that space, have the right to their privacy and also have the right to any copies of the footage that you record with them in.

I would not be surprised if the Council ask you to remove it and I think that they would be well within their rights to do so.
 

Fabien

Active Member
If the housing people ask you to remove the camera then maybe consider one of the new video doorbells?

Maximus (released at CES) has a 2 cameras, one forward and one facing down. If it has a wide enough lens and motion activated recording, it could provide a more covert method, which hopefully the Landlord won’t ‘understand’ lol

Fabien
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
It sounds like you are doing everything right and I agree that if you were a home owner or in a private rented dwelling, you would have no issues.

The fact that you are recording a shared area means you will need the agreement of all affected parties - and that will include the landlord. As you are no doubt aware, it all comes down to GDPR, but the Data Protection Act had similar requirements, so it's not a new thing.

Even if you record covertly, it's the same issue so your best bet is to get a letter of agreement from the landlord. I think I would approach this on the basis that you have already supplied evidence of criminal activity to the police and can show a reduction in nuisance issues since the installation. It's quite hard to argue that an individual is having their rights to privacy somehow impinged upon if the camera covers an area that they would not normally need to visit and that there's genuine suspicion that they are causing damage and allowing unauthorised people into the block.

Probably best to tackle this before they come to you. Lay out the issues and request permission to continue using the camera. If they reject this, appeal and carry on the process as long as possible. If things are not going your way, get the local press involved. "Crime stopping camera removed by Council busybodies" is not the sort of headline they will be looking for!!
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
I totally agree with @noiseboy72, it may be best to ask the Landlord for permission to retain your camera, based on the above arguments. This needs to be in writing.
 

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