CCTV and the Law

As is stands anyone working and operating a CCTV system in a public space in the UK is required, by law to hold a valid SIA CCTV licence. However there is some confusion over the nuance of what falls into this regulation and what does not. Consequently, many system managers are unwittingly in breach of the regulations and are in fact breaking the law. And unfortunately that means that the operator, although employed in good faith are still breaking the law and are open to prosecution.

Let’s start with training and what the job entails.

On a CCTV operators course, students will learn initially the basics of the security industry and have to pass the Principles of Working in the Private Security Industry Module 1. This is the standard orientation to the security industry, all SIA licences cover. Then surveillance technology and security management. Then training modules to understanding the tools, techniques, and responsibilities involved in monitoring Closed-Circuit Television systems.

Students learn the fundamental principles of CCTV technology, including how cameras, monitors, and recording devices function together to capture and store video footage. This foundational knowledge provides a solid framework for understanding the operational aspects of CCTV systems.

Beyond the technical aspects, the course also delves into legal and ethical considerations surrounding surveillance. Participants explore privacy laws, data protection regulations, and codes of conduct governing the use of CCTV cameras. Understanding these legal frameworks is essential for ensuring compliance and ethical behaviour in the field. Arguably the most important part of the roll of a CCTV operator.

Aspiring CCTV operators also acquire practical skills in camera operation, surveillance techniques, and video management. They learn how to monitor multiple camera feeds simultaneously, detect suspicious behaviour, and respond effectively to security incidents. Additionally, they gain proficiency in managing and storing video footage, as well as coordinating with emergency responders during critical situations.

Ultimately, the job of a CCTV operator entails maintaining vigilance, attention to detail, and quick decision-making abilities. Whether monitoring public spaces, commercial premises, or government facilities, CCTV operators play a crucial role in safeguarding people, property, and assets. By undergoing rigorous training in a CCTV operators course, individuals are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in this demanding yet rewarding profession.

So where does this go wrong?

Often there is confusion over what constitutes a public space. Essentially if your cameras cover publicly accessible areas you should have operators who hold a CCTV licence. There is also some confusion over what footage can be viewed, live feed verses recorded footage. The law is clear, there is no distinction, both live and recorded images are covered, in both instances a licence is required.

What constitutes an operator? Can someone cover a camera during a break for example? No. Technically, you cannot even enter the room where the monitors are located without a CCTV licence. This can cause logistic issues for management as the CCTV room often doubles up as the ops room, as they are both very often 24 hour operations and the radios and equipment are stored there and the patrol teams sign in and collect their equipment at the start of their shift. Again, the law is clear. The CCTV ops room should be a restricted area. No CCTV badge, no entry.

Finally a word on body worn cameras. All the laws regarding CCTV use applies to body worn cameras. The law permits security and DS officers to wear body cams and even record. They can not view any footage they record, under any circumstances.

If you are in any doubt consult the Home Office Surveillance Camera’s Code of Practice. Link below.\_Camera\_Code\_of\_Practice\_WEB.pdf

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *