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Surveillance Camera Laws for Business & Property Owners

Surveillance cameras play a pivotal role when it comes to securing your business and commercial property from threats such as burglaries and vandalism.

CCTV systems are considered to be one of the most effective deterrents against such threats and there is a reason why every other business has one in place.

You are likely to find CCTV cameras in office buildings, factories, supermarkets, stores, other commercial properties, and even privately owned homes.

The reason why so many business and property owners have invested in CCTV systems is because of the many benefits they provide. Safety and security of the premises, along with its assets and inhabitants, is possibly the biggest advantage the security systems have to offer.

In addition to deterring crime, surveillance cameras help gather evidence and aid in catching the perpetrators, proving to be a very handy tool in assisting law enforcement agencies to solve crime.

CCTV cameras don’t just keep a check on external threats, but also help keep internal ones at bay. The presence of CCTV cameras tends to make people behave and stay away from any kind of mischief, fraud, or felony. This is particularly beneficial for businesses operating in a large area where keeping an eye on everyone becomes a challenge, and where the area cannot be personally monitored by senior staff members.

Despite the wide array of benefits that CCTV systems provide to businesses and property owners, they are met with concern regarding the privacy of the people being recorded. Which is why there are certain laws that businesses must follow if they wish to use CCTV systems to increase their security.

CCTV LAWS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

While every business is permitted to use security systems such as CCTV cameras to ensure their safety and security, they must operate them responsibly.

Certain laws govern the use of CCTV systems in businesses and adherence to said laws is mandatory. The four main acts that make up the CCTV legal framework in the country are:

  • The Data Protection Act (DPA)

The Data Protection Act (DPA) controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses, or the government, and is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

  • The Freedom of Information Act (FOI)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) regulates access to information held by public authorities by obliging them to push certain information about their activities and allowing members of the public to request information.

  • The Protection of Freedoms Act (POFA)

The Protection of Freedoms Act (POFA) controls how surveillance and biometric data can be used, and how they must be kept secure.

  • The Human Rights Act (HRA)

The Human Rights Act (HRA) concerns the rights of individuals about their privacy.

The legal responsibility to follow the laws lies on the shoulders of the data controller, who can be an individual or organization deciding why, what, and how the data is processed.

In some cases, the surveillance and data processing are done on behalf of data controllers through third-parties such as security service providers, also called data processors. These data processors are not bound by the DPA and only the data controller can be held accountable. It is the data controller that must exercise control over data processing and must take responsibility to protect it.

Another important thing to note here is that surveillance laws not only refer to the proper usage of CCTV cameras, but a broad range of equipment such as surveillance drones, automatic number plate recognition systems, and body-worn cameras.

CCTV CODE OF PRACTICE

To make adherence to the data protection laws easier, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a code of practice for data controllers to follow. They include:

  • Having a legitimate reason, such as security risks, for using CCTV cameras, which is possibly the most important aspect of legal compliance.
  • Registering with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as a CCTV operator, which includes paying a data protection fee (unless you’re exempted).
  • Effective administration of the surveillance system by establishing clear responsibilities and procedures, along with documenting all aspects of data control.
  • Ensuring that the data is stored securely and can only be accessed by authorized personnel.
  • Informing everyone in the area that they are being recorded, which can best be achieved by putting up clear signage or communicating with the people involved.
  • Monitoring staff as long as they have been made aware of it in writing and explained the reasons behind it.
  • Not installing CCTV cameras in private areas of the workplace such as toilets and changing rooms.
  • Disabling audio recording on all CCTV systems since it is a huge invasion of privacy and is largely discouraged.
  • Ensuring that the recorded data is provided, within one month, to individuals who have been recorded on the system, if they request to access it.
  • Storing the data only for as long as it is needed, the duration for which varies from business to business.
  • Sharing recorded images and video footage with the authorities, such as the police, if they ask for them.
  • Regularly maintaining and reviewing the system to ensure it’s working as it should and is compliant with all the CCTV laws.

CONSEQUENCES OF BREAKING THE LAW

The aforementioned CCTV laws for business are taken very seriously and a violation can lead to criminal charges and the owners facing huge fines of up to £500,000.

In addition to jail time and fines, businesses might end up losing employee and client 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 a business or property owner.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?

As a business or property owner, you must abide by the laws laid out by the UK government that ensure the safety and security of your property, in addition to safeguarding the privacy of others.

The three factors that determine the effectiveness of a CCTV system are the quality of the equipment, the skill of the installation, and the way that the system is maintained and looked after.

  • Professional Installation

It is recommended to have your CCTV system properly installed by professionals who are experts in their field and can help you and your property be compliant with CCTV laws.

CCTV installation is a specialist trade and one that is best reserved for security industry professionals. While many general electricians may offer this as a service, they simply do not have the specific knowledge and experience to offer the same level of expertise.

In addition to the physical installation of the equipment, there are many factors to consider such as optimum positioning of the cameras, setting up the DVR, integration with other security measures such as intruder alarms, and the settings of the system itself.

We, at Calder Security, are specialists in the security industry and understand the importance of proper installation that is of the best quality.

We design every commercial CCTV system bespoke to each business, conducting every aspect from surveys, design and specification, to installation ourselves. We supply only high-quality business CCTV equipment by trusted brands such as Hikvision, one of the world’s leading CCTV manufacturers.

We also know the market better and can make informed recommendations on the specifications of the system such as whether it should be IP or analogue HD, how many cameras you need and where to put them to minimise interference from weather conditions, along with full training on how to get the most from the system and how to use it correctly and responsibly.

  • Regular professional maintenance

Regular maintenance of your business CCTV system will repay your investment in it by working effectively with minimal disruptions, extending its lifespan.

Discovering faults with recordings or playback after an incident is no use to anyone, which is why proactive maintenance is essential for preserving the integrity of the system.

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.

Our security experts and engineers at Calder Security recommend annual servicing to maintain your CCTV system, where they will conduct a visual assessment of all equipment, check all connections and cabling, clean cameras, lenses and housing, check the positioning of the cameras, assess playback and recording quality, and even re-familiarise users on proper operation of the system if need be.

CHOOSING THE BEST BUSINESS CCTV CAMERA

Having the right kind of equipment that works best for your business and its security is one of the determining factors of the CCTV system being effective.

One of the basic practices laid out by the ICO state that there must be a legitimate reason to use CCTV cameras and the business and property owners must have the right kind of system installed with effective administration ensuring complete compliance to the law.

Different types of businesses have different requirements and security needs, and therefore, require different CCTV cameras for their particular business.

Here we have a few factors that you need to consider, as a business and property owner, to help you make a more informed decision when choosing the best CCTV camera:

  • Camera visibility

There are two options when it comes to CCTV cameras; using them as a visual or hidden deterrent.

You can either place them in such a way that they remain hidden from plain view or you may display them as a clear, visual deterrent. In either case, it is mandatory to put up a sign informing the individuals in the area that they are under surveillance.

The location for the system’s installation, and what and who you wish to monitor will play a huge part in determining which type you go with.

  • Camera placement

Some CCTV cameras are built specifically for indoor use, while others are more suited for outdoor use.

They are both effective when used as a monitoring system with the primary distinction being the external factors, such as extreme weather conditions that the outdoor camera can withstand.

For certain businesses that operate in extreme weather conditions inside as well, the CCTV cameras must be well-suited to work efficiently in said circumstances.

For instance, in industrial kitchens, the CCTV cameras must be adjusted to withstand heat from the cooking equipment, as well as grease and oil. If placed inside a cold pantry, the system must have a built-in heater to prevent it from freezing.

  • Size of business or property

The size of the area will heavily determine the type of CCTV camera used. A smaller area might work with a fixed system, whereas a larger area might need additional features such as zooming capabilities.

If the area that you need to monitor is large, the best option is to go with a PTZ CCTV camera since it allows you to view a large area and zoom on particular objects you wish to focus on.

PTZ cameras allow you to cover a large area using just one camera, reducing the costs of having multiple static cameras installed, along with providing great quality footage.

On the other hand, small areas do not require such additional features and static cameras should suffice.

  • Camera quality and resolution

Business CCTV cameras come in a range of resolutions ranging from 720p to 4K. As is obvious, the higher the resolution, the clearer the picture.

The determining factor here is the reason why you want a CCTV system installed in the first place. If it is to monitor potential burglaries or shoplifting incidents, identification is necessary and would be made easy with high-quality footage.

An office space with very few visitors wouldn’t generally need very high camera resolution.

The bottom line here is that the footage mustn’t be too grainy that making up the face of the subject becomes impossible; therefore, a minimum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels is recommended.

  • Flexibility and scalability

If you are unsure about how much your business would grow in the future and how many more CCTV cameras you would require, having a flexible and scalable CCTV system is the way to go.

Traditional CCTV systems are generally hardwired, making it difficult to scale.

If you’re looking for flexibility and scalability, you should opt for IP surveillance systems that work wirelessly, making it possible to scale the system according to your requirements.

If you are confused and can’t decide on the best CCTV camera for your requirements, do not worry. We are here to help.

Contact us right away for a quick consultation. Our experienced engineers at Calder Security would be happy to suggest the best system for your business or property, ensuring its utmost safety and security, along with complete compliance with the law.

MAKE YOUR BUSINESS AND PROPERTY SECURE

Calder Security offers a comprehensive solution for surveillance cameras that are state-of-the-art and comply with business CCTV laws and regulations.

Here’s how Calder Security can help:

  • We offer professional installation and design every commercial CCTV system bespoke to each business, conducting every aspect from surveys, design and specification to installation ourselves.
  • Our professional maintenance services ensure that your CCTV system works in its optimal condition all year round, guaranteeing effectiveness and compliance with the law.
  • We also offer professional CCTV monitoring services that help detect security breaches as they are in progress for the appropriate action to be taken, even when the business premises or property are empty.
  • We understand that CCTV can malfunction for several reasons and that the issues must be resolved instantly to not put your security in a vulnerable state. Our expert repair services carry a comprehensive range of parts, equipment, and service kits on their vans to ensure that fixes are dealt with efficiently because burglars don’t just wait until repairs are done.

Here are some other facts about Calder Security that you might be interested in:

  • We are specialists in the security industry since 1976.
  • Our qualified security specialist engineers are experienced in all types of commercial security.
  • We are SSAIB approved installers and contractors.
  • We supply only the best CCTV equipment by trusted brands such as Hikvision.
  • We supply both analogue and IP camera systems and can maintain and repair all kinds of systems.
  • For CCTV monitoring, we only use Trusted Remote Video Receiving Centres (RVRC).
  • We can recommend improvements to CCTV systems including better positioning of cameras.
  • We can also take over the servicing of an existing system not installed by us.

We are Yorkshire’s leading independent security company and are great at what we do. You can contact us here for a quick consultation or call us on 0800 612 9799.

Photo by Lianhao Qu on Unsplash