Report Crime Online Emergency Call 999

Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Whittlesey and District Neighbourhood Watch

Creating safer, stronger and active communities

Guide to Using CCTV

Using CCTV at your home

This guidance is for home users only. Businesses are dealt with differently see 

There are many domestic CCTV systems on the market to help you protect your home. If you’re thinking of using one, you need to make sure you do so in a way that respects other people’s privacy.

If you set up your system so it captures only images within the boundary of your private domestic property (including your garden), then the data protection laws will not apply to you.

But what if your system captures images of people outside the boundary of your private domestic property – for example, in neighbours’ homes or gardens, shared spaces, or on a public footpath or a street?

Then the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18) will apply to you, and you will need to ensure your use of CCTV complies with these laws. 

Regardless of whether or not your use of CCTV falls within the data protection laws, the Information Commissioner's Office recommends you use it responsibly to protect the privacy of others.

 What is ‘private domestic property’?

It means the boundary of the property (including the garden) where you live. This can include rented property, or a private space in a communal residential dwelling – such as a flat, or a private room in a residential care home.

How can I use CCTV responsibly at my property?

You should ask yourself whether CCTV is actually the best way to improve your home security.

Think about the following questions:

  • Do I really need CCTV?
  • Are there other things I could use to protect my home, such as better security lighting?
  • What is the most privacy-friendly way to set up the system?
  • What areas do I want the cameras to capture?
  • Can I position the cameras to avoid intruding on my neighbours’ property or any shared or public spaces?
  • Do I need to record the images, or is a live feed enough?
  • Has my CCTV system got an audio-recording facility? Audio recording is very privacy-intrusive, in most cases householders should disable audio recording.

Think about the problem you are trying to tackle. It will usually be to safeguard you and your property against crime. Check your local police or this website for advice about crime prevention. Better locks, security lighting or an alarm system may be more effective and less expensive ways of securing your property.

If you decide to use CCTV, think about what areas need to be covered, and whether your cameras need to capture images beyond the boundary of your property. Remember, if your cameras don’t capture images beyond your boundary, the data protection laws won’t apply to you.

What is the law if my CCTV captures images of people outside my own home and garden?

If your CCTV captures images beyond your property boundary, such as your neighbours’ property or public streets and footpaths, then your use of the system is subject to the data protection laws.

This does not mean you are breaking the law. But it does mean that, as the CCTV user, you are a data controller. So you will need to comply with your legal obligations under the data protection laws.

You can still capture images, but you need to show you are doing it in ways that comply with the data protection laws and uphold the rights of the people whose images you are capturing.

 What must I do if I capture images of people outside my own home and garden?

If you are capturing images beyond your property boundary, you should have a clear and justifiable reason for doing so. In particular, you will need to think why you need these images. If asked by an individual or the ICO, you will need to be able to explain your reasons, so you should write them down. You should also write down why you think capturing the images is more important than invading the privacy of your neighbours and passers-by.

You will also need to:

  • Let people know you are using CCTV by putting up signs saying that recording is taking place, and why.
  • Ensure you don’t capture more footage than you need to achieve your purpose in using the system.
  • Ensure the security of the footage you capture – in other words, holding it securely and making sure nobody can watch it without good reason.
  • Only keep the footage for as long as you need it – delete it regularly, and when it is no longer needed.
  • Ensure the CCTV system is only operated in ways you intend and can’t be misused for other reasons. Anyone you share your property with, such as family members who could use the equipment, needs to know the importance of not misusing it.

You also need to make sure you respect the data protection rights of the people whose images you capture. This includes the following things:

  • Responding to subject access requests (SARs), if you receive any. Individuals have a right to access the personal data you hold about them, including identifiable images. They can ask you verbally or in writing. You must respond within one month and give them a copy of the data.
  • Deleting footage of people if they ask you to do so. You should do this within one month. You can refuse to delete it if you specifically need to keep it for a genuine legal dispute – in which case you need to tell them this, and also tell them they can challenge this in court or complain to the ICO.
  • Consider any objection you get now from particular people about capturing their image in the future. Given the nature of CCTV systems, this may be very difficult to do. However, you should again think whether you need to record images beyond your property boundary – particularly if your system is capturing images from a neighbour’s home or garden.

What happens if I break the law?

If you fail to comply with your obligations under the data protection laws, you may be subject to enforcement action by the ICO. This could include a fine. You may also be subject to legal action by affected individuals, who could pursue court claims for compensation.

If you follow the guidance and take all reasonable steps to comply with your data protection obligations, the ICO is unlikely to regard you as a regulatory risk. So the ICO would be unlikely to think that taking enforcement action against you was a proportionate use of its resources.

 What else should I think about?

 Before you install the system, consider speaking to your neighbours and explaining what you are doing. Listen to any objections or concerns they may have. It may also be useful to invite your neighbours to view the footage you capture. This may relieve any concerns they have about your use of CCTV. It may also avoid disputes escalating or complaints being made about your recording.
The phrase ‘domestic CCTV system’ refers to the use of any video surveillance equipment mounted or fixed on your home. It can include cameras fitted to doorbells. Remember that your use of a domestic CCTV system may be appropriate, but publicly uploading or streaming footage of identifiable people would need more justification. In most cases it would not be justifiable.
 You don’t need to register with the ICO or pay a fee. However, you must maintain records of how and why you are capturing these images, and for how long you are keeping them. You may need to make these records available to the ICO on request.
Source - Information Commissioner's Office 
These guidelines may be updated by the source. You are advised to visit the relevant pages on the ICO site

Distracton Burglary Advice

Remember - You don't have to open the door!

Most callers are genuine, but some aren't. Burglars won't go to the trouble of breaking in if they can just knock and be invited in. So always be on guard when unexpected visitors - men, women or even children - turn up at the door. 

Occasionally some callers will pretend to be on official business from utility companies (gas, electricity, water) or the council. They may pretend to be trades people who are calling to carry out urgent repairs or may claim that they have lost something in your back garden. 

Lock the back door! (and close the windows)

Some distraction burglars will know you are at home and will call at your front door in order to keep you talking there while their friend goes round the back and steals from the back of the house.  It’s always a good habit to keep the back door locked in any case.  During the day you just need to turn the key in the lock, but do remember to take the key out at night or when you go out. 

Acknowledge a call at the door

It is essential that you acknowledge the call, otherwise the caller will think the home is unoccupied.  Of course, acknowledging a call at the door is very different to actually opening the door to a caller. Try to see the face of the caller but stay safe:  If you live in a house, you could pop upstairs and talk to the caller from the complete safety of an open first floor window. You can also look through the clear glazed panel of your front door, if you have one, or use a door viewer. You may even fit one of the new smart doorbells which allow you to view a caller and some will even record them on a short video and allow you to acknowledge the vistor over the internet.

Keeping the door closed

There is nothing wrong with keeping your entrance door closed to an unexpected caller.  An enhanced security door is most effective when it’s closed and locked!  There is no obligation to open the door to strangers.  During the day if the door is opened, open it on the chain.

If you are disabled you can get a simple door phone.  They are cheap to buy and easy to install and will save you a lot of effort.  In fact door phones for ‘closed door’  are a good idea anyway, because you can acknowledge the call from the comfort of an arm chair.

Opening the door on the chain

For those who prefer to open the door, apply the door chain or door bar or other restrictive mechanism that you might have. 

This will let you have a clear view of the caller and be able to talk face-to-face and pass things like identification cards through the gap. If your home has a very narrow hallway, where the door is almost the same width as the hall, then you might not be able to look at the caller through the gap.  In these situations try fitting a makeup mirror on the wall right by the doorframe that has been angled slightly to bring the caller’s face into view.  You can often stick these to the wall using blue-tak. If you need to go and get something for the caller from another part of your home keep the door chain on and close and lock the door while you fetch the item.  You should also do this when you are checking a caller’s identification.  If they’re genuine they won’t mind, even if it’s pouring down.

To protect yourself from distraction burglary

  1. Beware of anyone who says they are in a hurry - if in doubt, call a neighbour or friend
  2. Check to see who is at the door by using your door viewer, or looking through a front window Always put the chain on before you open the door as this is a barrier against unwanted callers
  3. When an unexpected caller claims they work for one of the utility companies, they must be able to quote your password and unique customer number and produce an identity card
    • All of the utility companies operate password schemes - contact the customer services department and set up a password with them
    • Make a note of your customer number, which can be found at the top of the utility bill and keep it handy - this number is unique to your household
    • As added proof of identity, genuine trades people should carry an identification card with their photograph on -check this carefully and keep the chain on.

Heating and Diesel Oil Theft

Following the heating oil security advice below, could reduce the chances of you being a victim.

Theft of heating and diesel oil has been a problem for many years and the police have noticed an increase in this type of crime whenever the price of crude oil rises.  A rise in the price of fuel at the petrol pump inevitably leads to a rise in the costs of heating oil.  This makes oil a more attractive proposition for thieves who are targeting fuel tanks at farms, transport depots and domestic properties.  The thieves may be using the oil for their own central heating or selling it on at a handsome profit.

Tanks can contain many thousands of pounds worth of oil and it therefore makes good sense to take a few precautions to protect them.  The purpose of this information is to give the reader a few ideas about what can be done to make life more difficult for thieves.

Read more: Heating and Diesel Oil Theft

Home Security

We're urging you to check your home security to help prevent a rise in burglaries over the winter months. Dwindling hours of daylight and the Christmas period often combine to result in more break-ins.

In the three months from August to October last year, there were 569 dwelling burglaries in the county, compared to 628 during the following three months (November-January), a rise of more than 10 per cent.

Taking security steps at home and remembering to always leave your windows and doors locked is a great start but we would also ask people to keep their eyes and ears open and report any suspicious activity.

Information we receive from the public is crucial and people should never hesitate to report something that appears unusual or suspicious.

For more burglary prevention advice, see below or visit our web pages and online home survey tool at http://ow.ly/V6uf4

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Regards

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Branston

Here are some tips:

  1. Always keep doors and windows closed and locked or in a ventilated but locked position, even when they are inside the house. Always check and lock doors with a key - never assume that just pushing up an internal handle will lock the door.
  2. Remove keys from window and door locks, but keep them in a familiar and safe place where all members of the family know where to find them in the event of an emergency.
  3. Never leave items such as keys, bags, presents and money on show through a window.
  4. Consider the position of key racks or shelves next to a door and ensure that they cannot be reached through the letter box.
  5. Use timer switches to turn on lights and radios when you are going to be away from your house at dusk.
  6. Consider the use of lights at the front and rear of your property that are activated when someone approaches.
  7. Consider the use of bolts and padlocks on side gates. Place the bolts at the top, middle and bottom of the gate, as just a top bolt might be easy to reach and open.
  8. A visible intruder alarm box can prove to be one of the biggest deterrents to an opportunist burglar, so consider installing a DIY or supplier installed system.