Surveillance at Work – The Legal Implications of CCTV

Surveillance at Work – The Legal Implications of CCTV

  • Date: Wednesday 25th January 2017

In the UK the average person is likely to be captured on CCTV cameras around 70 times a day.  CCTV cameras have become increasingly prevalent as the installation of the equipment has become far more easy with less reliance on specialist engineers. 

CCTV is normally associated with monitoring safety and security.  But due to the sheer volume of images and footage captured each day some inevitably are taken in the work place.   Increasingly the latest technology is purposely used to record and protect worker interactions with the public.  Most notably for police officers and NHS security guards who wear body worn cameras.

Logistics companies are mounting dash cams on their delivery driver’s dashboards and courier bikes to both protect staff and to use for footage as evidence.

What do employers need to do?

Employers need to be aware of the issue of consent from both the public and employees.  In addition employers need to consider the legal requirements and the code of practice for the use of surveillance cameras. 

Employers must meet the requirements on use of data established in the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), and the rights of privacy under the Human Rights Act 1998.  Under the Protection of Freedoms Act (2012) a new code of practice regarding surveillance in public spaces was published.  It applies directly to public authorities however it is strongly recommended for other employers.

A surveillance camera commissioner (SCC) has also appointed to promote and monitoring the use of this code.  The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has also published a code of practices for surveillance cameras and personal information.

Some key points from the code of practice to consider include:-

·         If an employer wishes to use CCTV in the workplace, the ICO must be notified of the reasons for its use.   An employer cannot then use the information collected for any other reason.  An example to consider is that if the employer is using CCTV to monitor crime, it cannot then use it to monitor staff. 

·         Inform staff that they may be recorded and state where cameras are located.  Employers should make this clear to workers through the use of clear and visible signs.

·         Consider what is proportionate and provide a reasonable level of privacy.  Consider where it is acceptable to have cameras and avoid placing them in areas such as near toilets, changing rooms and break areas.

·         Plan the collection and storage of this data in accordance with the Data Protection Act.  Ensure compliance with the Act in regard to how images will be stored, for how long and who can see it.

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