hurray your mega menu works

How long can CCTV footage be kept?

CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) cameras are a vital part of modern security and are becoming a common sight in all kinds of residential and commercial properties around the world.

Their numbers have increased drastically over the last couple of years with an expected one billion CCTV cameras on the world’s streets by the end of 2021.

CCTV cameras are a cost-effective way to maximise security around your property. They are not just used to deter crime but also for crime-solving since the recorded footage can be used as legitimate evidence according to the law.

In addition to that, CCTV cameras help improve insurance rates and provide a sense of safety and security, which is something extremely important for an individual’s well-being.

Along with talks of how beneficial CCTV cameras can be to individuals and society as a whole, there have also been concerns regarding their misuse and privacy breaches.

Everyone is allowed to install CCTV systems on their properties, provided that they have proper reasoning and legitimate security concerns for doing so.

There are, however, certain CCTV laws and regulations to ensure that the systems aren’t misused and that the users aren’t infringing strict privacy laws that protect the rights of people.

One such law is regarding the permitted duration of time for keeping CCTV footage.

Read on to find out how long CCTV footage can be kept, the storage options available, and other important CCTV laws for public and private property owners:

HOW LONG CAN CCTV FOOTAGE BE KEPT?

CCTV footage is subject to the Data Protection Act (DPA) which not just includes written details about someone but also pictures and videos that can be used to identify them.

CCTV footage provides valuable information regarding incidents and may be of help to the police trying to identify and catch a perpetrator. It is, however, a huge responsibility to keep the recorded footage safe and delete it after a certain time.

What is that time period, though?

Generally, 31 days is the time that most CCTV users keep their recorded footage and it is also recommended by the police.

However, this duration may be adjusted according to the severity of the incident. For instance, for smaller low-risk properties, the retention time may be brought down to 14 days instead of the recommended 31 days.

14 days is ample time for the authorities to retrieve the video in the event of an incident. It is also mentioned in the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) CCTV code of practice that data should not be retained for longer than necessary.

A high-risk public place, such as a town centre that may capture valuable footage of a major crime or incident, must retain the footage for all 31 days, if not longer.

It may prove beneficial to the police who might want to review the video of the event itself and also days before and after the incident.

While 31 days is the recommended retention period for regular CCTV footage, the footage captured following an incident may be kept on for longer as necessary.

If you have been informed of an incident or accident that is undergoing investigation, it is recommended to copy the relevant footage onto a separate storage device.

This is done because the individuals in question may put forward requests and claim proceedings for the footage for three years after the alleged event.

Keeping this kind of footage for a longer period may prove beneficial to you as well since you can use it as evidence to discredit allegations against you or your business.

CCTV STORAGE OPTIONS

According to CCTV laws, you must ensure that the data recorded by the CCTV cameras is stored securely and can only be accessed by authorised personnel.

You need to look for storage options that can accommodate the amount of data being saved without having to manually delete the previous day’s footage to make space for more, and that is safe from being stolen, hacked, and misused.

CCTV camera users have the option of storing footage on the cloud or using local storage, such as a microSD card placed inside the camera or a separate hard drive.

CCTV cloud storage provides CCTV users with a variety of storage options, simplifying the process of retrieving the saved footage and enabling them to stay compliant with the law.

Cloud storage works by using the internet to keep all your recorded CCTV footage safe and secure all in one place and is an extremely affordable service that is both time-saving and can also be tailored according to your needs.

The time and date are automatically logged and you are allowed to access the cloud server to view, forward, rewind, delete, or download the footage anytime you want.

You may easily access all your saved data by logging onto the cloud server using a smart device such as a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. All you require is a good internet connection and you can access the footage from absolutely anywhere in the world.

You may keep the footage for as long as you require and also have it scheduled to be deleted automatically after a few days – preferably 14 to 31 days.

One of the biggest benefits of cloud CCTV storage is that you can access it anytime and from anywhere. Also, since it is saved off-site, it is better protected against theft, fire, damage, and getting lost.

THE DATA PROTECTION ACT (DPA) AND CCTV

For your CCTV cameras and recorded footage to be DPA-compliant, there are certain steps that you need to follow:

Inform the data subjects that they are being recorded

When recording footage using CCTV cameras, you need to make it as transparent as possible by telling people when they are being recorded to allow them to exercise their rights to access their data and challenge the way it is used.

This can best be achieved by putting up clear signage or communicating with the people involved. If you are using CCTV cameras to monitor staff members and employees, they need to be made aware of it in writing and explained the reasons behind it.

Clearly state why you are using CCTV

In addition to stating that you are collecting personal data through CCTV cameras, you also need to explain why you are using the security systems and must have a legitimate reason for doing so.

Also, you must make sure that the system is used only for its intended purpose, for example, to detect and deter crime, monitor employees, or maximise security around the property.

Control who has access to the CCTV footage

Permission to access the CCTV footage must only be given to authorised individuals or else using CCTV cameras can do you more harm than good.

The DPA requires effective administration of the surveillance system by establishing clear responsibilities and procedures, along with documenting all aspects of data control.

This means keeping the recordings secure and in a safe location, such as the cloud, instead of physical tapes which can easily be stolen or destroyed.

One thing to note here is that if the necessary precautions are not taken, CCTV systems can also become vulnerable to hacking and used for spying on subjects through the internet.

There are simple ways to prevent such attacks from happening and it must be every data controller’s responsibility to make sure the systems and their recorded footage remain protected from malicious attacks.

Delete footage when it’s no longer necessary

As mentioned above, keeping recorded footage after the retention period is against the law, and also, it is highly impractical to store information indefinitely (higher storage costs).

You must be more systematic about how long you retain the CCTV footage and set up a schedule where it automatically gets deleted after 14 to 31 days, depending on the type of your property and the risk level of the incidents being recorded.

CONSEQUENCES OF NON-COMPLIANCE

CCTV laws are taken very seriously with a violation leading to criminal charges and the owners and data controllers facing huge fines of up to £500,000.

In addition to jail time and fines, organisations might end up losing the public’s trust since using recording equipment without their knowledge is a serious invasion of privacy.

The inability to put up signage for the general public to know that they are being monitored can also tarnish the reputation of an organisation.

HOW TO KEEP CCTV SAFE?

To securely use CCTV cameras and store the recorded footage, there are certain best practices to follow. For starters, you must run a thorough background check on the individuals permitted to access and control the systems.

Individuals with bad intent may use their privilege to target data subjects based on personal animosity, racism, ethnic background, political opinions, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation.

Therefore, it is necessary under the DPA for every data controller to follow strict rules, known as data protection principles, that make sure the information is used fairly, lawfully, and transparently.

In addition to that, if preventative measures are not taken, CCTV cameras can also be susceptible to cyber-attacks and hacking.

Hacking is done to gain access to all your CCTV files and system components through which the hackers can view, delete, steal, or alter the live and recorded footage, launch viruses, and have full control of the system.

To prevent such attacks from happening you must:

Install only state-of-the-art equipment

With the market flooded with all kinds of CCTV cameras, it is very easy to find cheaper alternatives for getting the work done.

The catch, however, with cheap knock-off CCTV cameras is that although you would be saving money, you’d be risking your and other people’s personal information in doing so.

Always purchase your CCTV cameras from a trusted source and have them installed by a certified and experienced professional security company that can advise you on the best type of cameras and storage options for the recorded footage.

Use stronger passwords

The importance of a strong password must not be overlooked, especially in this day and age. Therefore, the first thing that you must do when installing a new CCTV system on your property is to change the default password to something indecipherable.

Use something long and complex with a combination of numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters.

You must also make it a habit to regularly change your passwords, use encryption, turn off guest networking and sharing and, for added protection, also install a firewall between your devices and the internet connection.

Set up two-factor authentication

If your CCTV camera supports this feature, set it up on both the device and the cloud storage to add an extra layer to your security.

What two-factor authentication does is that it verifies your identity and makes sure that it’s you and not someone else trying to log into your account.

Two-factor authentication is a very useful feature and must be activated on all your emails and social media accounts as well. If you haven’t enabled it yet, do it right away!

Update your camera’s firmware

The manufacturers of the CCTV system will periodically send out updates that fix software bugs and other vulnerabilities. These updates help the system work more efficiently and protect the camera and your security from being compromised.

Some systems automatically download updates as soon as they are rolled out, while others require you to manually update them. Whichever the case, if you are serious about keeping the recorded footage secure and being compliant with the law, always keep your systems up-to-date.

Regularly service your CCTV system

Maintenance checks help identify issues before they become serious problems that risk the system not operating as it should.

Sometimes, if not rectified immediately, these minor faults can render the entire system useless, giving criminals just the right opportunity and moment of vulnerability that they are looking for.

As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to have the systems looked over at least once every month to ensure that they are functioning properly and providing the maximum level of protection.

A thorough in-depth check is recommended once every year by a professional service to assess the overall health and condition of the system and rectify any potential problems before they turn into actual issues.

Contact a professional security service

For professional CCTV services that are compliant with the law, you must choose a reliable security company to provide you with state-of-the-art services and also guide you along the way.

A professional security service knows the ins and outs of CCTV laws and regulations and can help you make the right decisions for your safety along with protecting the rights of those being recorded.

CONTACT CALDER SECURITY

Calder Security offers a comprehensive solution for CCTV cameras, for both residential and commercial properties, that are state-of-the-art and comply with UK laws and regulations.

We offer professional installation and design every CCTV system bespoke to each property, conducting every aspect from surveys, design and specification, to installation ourselves.

We are expert SSAIB-approved security system installers and supply only high-quality CCTV equipment from trusted brands such as Hikvision, one of the world’s leading CCTV manufacturers.

Our team of professionals don’t just install the CCTV systems and leave, but also provide full training on the equipment making sure you are comfortable with it and know how to use it properly.

Our CCTV monitoring services ensure that your property is being watched over by professional monitoring staff when it is unoccupied or most vulnerable.

We use only Trusted Remote Video Receiving Centres (RVRC) and offer peace of mind that any incident detected would prompt an appropriate response.

During a maintenance service, we undertake a visual assessment of all equipment, check connections and cabling, clean the cameras, lenses and housing, assess playback and recording quality, and test remote signalling (if applicable).

We also offer CCTV maintenance contracts that include a regularly maintained system by professionals, 24-hour coverage, reduced call-out and labour charges, and a reduction in insurance premiums.

If your system fails to record properly, loses clarity of picture, experiences drop out, won’t playback, or faces any other issue, our experienced engineers can diagnose and repair any faults quickly and with minimal disruption.

Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 9799 for a quick consultation with our leading experts right away!

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash