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CCTV cameras are used extensively in England and Wales and where used appropriately contribute to public safety and security and in protecting both people and property. They may be used for a number of purposes including,

  • the prevention, detection and investigation of crime
  • apprehension and / or prosecution of offenders (including images being entered as evidence in criminal proceedings)
  • public and employee safety
  • staff discipline.

When using CCTV cameras in public places there is a duty to comply with the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice. One of the main principles of the Code is that the use of a surveillance camera system must take into account its effect on individuals and their privacy, with regular reviews to ensure its use remains justified.

In situations where there is a particularly high expectation of privacy, such as changing rooms or toilets, the use of CCTV should only be done to address a particularly serious problem that cannot be addressed by less intrusive means. The use of such cameras should also be subject to review at least annually to ensure that it remains necessary.

If cameras are used then the shop/business should display a sign informing members of the public that cameras are in use, allowing an informed decision by the person using the premises.

If you feel that your rights have been violated then you may make a complaint to the manager of the organisation or the Surveillance Camera Commissioner (please see link in related information for information about the Surveillance Camera Commissioner)

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.