There is no doubt that homes with CCTV cameras are safer and more secure than homes without such security systems.
A study among homeowners found that when people knew they were being watched, vandalism and robberies went down tenfold, making CCTV one of the most effective deterrents for burglars.
The footage provided by the system helps keep a check on all activities around the property, along with helping identify anything suspicious such as potential intruders or burglars trying to sneak into your home.
The placement of the cameras is crucial in the overall effectiveness of the system and determining the perfect spots that are at risk of a break-in must be put under surveillance.
Installing CCTV systems inside homes is common practice, but should you install them outside your home? Read on to find out.
OUTDOOR CCTV – YES OR NO?
If you are a homeowner wanting to increase your home security, you have every right to secure your property by all lawful means necessary. Investing in a security system such as a CCTV camera is a great idea to keep a watchful eye over your home.
Installing CCTV outside your home can provide you with a lot of security benefits. They include:
- Negating potential criminal activity
A burglar’s main ally is stealth and neglect. CCTV cameras make it nearly impossible to break in without getting noticed, making them one of the biggest deterrents for burglars.
The mere sight of a CCTV camera outside your property is, at times, effective in scaring away potential criminals.
- Identifying suspects
CCTV footage helps collect evidence in the unfortunate event of a crime such as a burglary. Suspects can be easily identified with the help of CCTV recordings and there’s a higher chance of the perpetrators being caught.
CCTV cameras placed outside your home can sometimes record footage that can be very useful for the police trying to catch a crook.
- Safer neighbourhoods
The presence of surveillance systems outside homes makes the neighbourhood a safer place since it’s easier to monitor the surroundings and keep a check on what’s going on.
It gives people the confidence that their area is secure enough for their kids to go outside and play, without being afraid of intruders trying to invade their space.
- Insurance deductions
In the unfortunate event of a burglary or theft, CCTV footage provides proof of the incident validating your insurance claim.
Also, insurers offer discounts on home security if you protect your property against burglary and fire with a professionally installed home security system.
LAWS FOR OUTDOOR CCTV USE
While you are free to do whatever you desire within the confines of your private property, which includes the front porch and garden, there are certain laws that you must abide by if you wish to install CCTV outside your home.
If you intend to record images and videos of areas outside the boundary of your private domestic property, for instance, the neighbour’s yard or the street, you will have to abide by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18).
All homeowners need to ensure that their outdoor CCTV systems comply with the laws and guidelines laid out by the GDPR and DPA, since the inability to do so may subject them to appropriate legal action by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Due to the potential breach of privacy by capturing footage beyond the homeowner’s property, the ICO receives many complaints from people, including neighbours, who are legitimately concerned about the outdoor CCTV systems being used to spy on them.
This raises a huge issue where one’s safety and security make the other person feel unsafe and uncomfortable. To avoid that from happening, there are a few guidelines that homeowners can follow if they wish to install CCTV cameras on their property.
- Think about why you need to install a CCTV system outside your home, because there must be a valid reason for you to have one, such as serious security and safety threats.
- All outdoor CCTV cameras must be privacy-friendly. They must be positioned in such a way as to respect other people’s privacy. If the areas under surveillance are part of a shared space or the neighbour’s property, the intrusion must be minimized by using privacy masking and filters.
- You must register yourself as a CCTV operator with the ICO if you wish to operate CCTV cameras outside of your property without using privacy masking and filters.
- Your usage of CCTV cameras must be as transparent as possible to the people around. Neighbours must be informed and a clear sign must be put up informing people that the area is under surveillance.
- Audio recording is a huge invasion of privacy and is largely discouraged. Therefore, it must be disabled on all outdoor home CCTV systems. However, if the system is placed on the front door and records only within the perimeter of the house, audio may be enabled for one-way or two-way communication.
- You must take full responsibility for your CCTV system and its recordings, ensuring that the information is not used for any purpose other than security.
- The date and time on the system must be properly set and all recordings must be deleted once they are no longer required, preferably within 31 days, unless the security footage is being used as evidence for an ongoing investigation.
- A huge part of the data protection laws involves granting individuals being recorded access to the CCTV footage. You, as a home CCTV owner, need to be aware of their rights and must uphold them whenever they wish to exercise said rights.
- All outdoor CCTV systems must be regularly maintained to ensure that they comply with the GDPR and DPA.
BEST PLACEMENTS FOR OUTDOOR CCTV
Placing your outdoor CCTV cameras in all the right spots is very important because it determines what is captured and whether it makes a useful addition to your home security or not.
The following are the best places to install CCTV outside your home:
- The front door
The most common entry point for burglars to break into your property is through your door, with around 67% of them using the front door.
Since it is such a favourite among criminals, it is very important to secure your main entry point, i.e. the front door, with CCTV cameras.
- Side and back doors
If a burglar is unable to break-in through the front door, it is natural that they would try other doors, such as the side and back doors.
It is a common belief that the back doors are generally not as secure as the front door, which is why they are the second favourite with burglars trying to sneak in.
29% of burglars break-in through a window if they can’t access the house through a door.
They look for windows that are at the sides or preferably at back of the house, and that aren’t facing the main street. All such windows, both on the ground and first floor must be put under surveillance.
Garages are also a very popular entry point for burglars, especially if they are unsuccessful in finding a door or window to break in through.
Placing a security camera at the garage door is a great idea to catch someone trying to pry it open.
CHOOSING THE BEST OUTDOOR CCTV
CCTV cameras built for outdoor use are different from indoor systems and vary considerably in the features that they offer.
When choosing the best CCTV camera to install outside your home, there are a few recommended features that you must consider.
- Remote monitoring
Remote viewing is a very handy feature that allows you to access the CCTV footage in real-time, even when you’re away. All you need is an internet connection and you’re good to go. Different devices can be used to view the recorded data, such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. A professional monitoring centre’s services might also be used.
- Weather and vandal proof
Extreme heat and cold can damage a CCTV camera, which is why the outdoor systems need to be weather resistant, with thermostatic controls, to handle extreme temperatures as well as rain and direct sunlight. Also, since they are placed outside, they are susceptible to being tampered with, possibly by potential criminals, therefore they must also be vandal proof.
- Night vision
Due to a huge number of crimes being committed during the night time, the CCTV camera needs to have night vision features. It’s no use if the camera can’t record videos in the dark since that would make for very ineffective surveillance.
- Camera quality and resolution
CCTV cameras come in a range of resolutions ranging from 720p to 4K. The higher the resolution, the clearer the picture. It’s no use if the footage being recorded on the CCTV camera is grainy to the point that making up the face of an intruder becomes a challenge; therefore, a minimum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels is recommended. Cameras with the advanced facial recognition feature can identify or recognize an individual based on their facial features.
- Expansive field of view
A 180- or 360-degree field of view enables the camera to completely cover the area under surveillance, without missing any blind spots. Features such as the ones offered in the pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras are perfect for the job. However, extra care must be taken that these easily adjustable cameras aren’t used to record areas not under your jurisdiction since doing so without legal permission can land you in some serious trouble.
- Large storage options
A good CCTV camera records and stores footage either on an SD card, NVR or DVR, or the cloud, and the storage capacity must be enough to accommodate the needs of the system. According to the law, recorded footage must be deleted from all systems, preferably within 31 days, which automatically makes room for more data to be stored. But sometimes, due to the very high-quality footage, storage space might not be enough and the system either resorts to overwriting or not saving data at all, which is why cloud storage solution with unlimited storage space is the preferred choice.
- Reliable power and connectivity
This is one of the most important features since uninterrupted power supply and internet signals are what makes the system work. Frequent power outages, with no backup batteries, and unstable Wi-Fi connectivity can render the CCTV systems absolutely useless.
- Motion sensors
The great thing about motion detection is that it only activates the camera to start recording the video when motion is detected. Otherwise, it deactivates the recording feature, saving up on energy costs and storage space for video recordings.
- Speaker and microphone
Audio recording is generally frowned upon, especially if done in a public space. However, the feature can be pretty useful if used within the confines of your house, particularly at the main entrance. It can be used to communicate with whoever is at your door without having to even open it. Microphone capabilities can be used to scare away potential intruders, and, coupled with a blaring alarm, it is a very effective technique!
PROFESSIONAL CCTV INSTALLATION
The correct installation of a CCTV outside your home is just as crucial as its proper usage. All CCTV installations must comply with the UK CCTV legislation laid out by the DPA.
One of the best ways to ensure compliance with the law is to have your outdoor CCTV system installed by a reputable security company.
At Calder Security, we understand the importance of quality installations so that the fittings do not become loose, knocking the system out of position.
We are specialists working in the security industry since 1976, supplying only high-quality home CCTV equipment by trusted brands such as Hikvision, one of the world’s leading CCTV manufacturers.
We supply both analogue HD and IP systems and can advise you on which system would be most appropriate for your home, both indoors and outside.
One of the most important aspects of owning a CCTV system is knowing how to use it properly. It’s one of the laws of the UK CCTV legislation. Therefore, it is crucial to be well-informed and trained on how to operate your home CCTV.
Our expert installers make sure that you are comfortable with and know the ins and outs of the system before leaving. They are always available on call and can also pay a visit to help you with any further clarifications.
PROFESSIONAL CCTV MAINTENANCE
You can’t just install a CCTV system and forget about it. Just as with every electronic system out there, a home CCTV system requires regular maintenance.
To ensure that you are complying with the CCTV laws and regulations about capturing footage outside of your home, you must have a professional security company regularly service the outdoor system and run maintenance checks.
It is crucial to regularly check the positioning of the CCTV camera to make sure it is fitted properly and isn’t intruding on other people’s privacy.
As mentioned in the DPA, the recorded footage must be deleted within a certain number of days. Regular servicing ensures that the deletion is taking place as per the schedule and the recordings are not kept for longer than necessary.
It is also important to keep the system clean since intrusions such as dirt and debris can affect the way CCTV works, causing them to malfunction at times.
We recommend that all outdoor and indoor CCTV systems are serviced every year to keep them working at optimum performance. Even if the system seems to be working fine, regular checks help with the early detection of potential issues and the system gets all the necessary adjustments as well as a good clean to keep it working well.
During a home CCTV maintenance visit, our expert team at Calder Security undertakes a visual assessment of all equipment, checks connections and cabling, cleans the cameras, lenses and housing, assesses playback and recording quality, and tests remote signalling (if applicable).