A new Code of Practice on the use of surveillance cameras by public bodies has come into force in England and Wales. The Code introduced by the Home Office states that “the purpose…will be that individuals…have confidence that surveillance cameras are deployed to protect and support them rather than spy on them”.
The Code states that “the government is fully supportive of the use of overt surveillance cameras in a public place whenever that use is in pursuit of a legitimate aim; necessary to meeting a pressing need, proportionate, effective and compliant with any relevant legal obligations”. Currently there are approximately 100,000 cameras operated by local authorities and schools across the UK which the Code will apply to. However, it also calls on all private operators to apply the Code.
The Code sets out guiding principles that should apply to all systems in public places. These guiding principles are designed to provide a “framework for operators and users…so that there is proportionality and transparency in their use…and systems are capable of providing good quality images and other information which are fit for purpose”.
The guidelines state that the use of surveillance camera system must:
- Always be for a specified purpose which is in the pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need;
- Take into account its effect on individuals and their privacy, with regular reviews to ensure its use remains justified;
- Have as much transparency in the use of a system as possible, including a published contact point for access to information and complaints;
- Have clear responsibility and accountability for all surveillance activities including images and information collected, held and used;
- Have clear rules, policies and procedures in place and these must be communicated to all who need to comply with them;
- Have no more images and information stored than that whish is strictly required, and such images and information should be deleted once their purposes have been discharged;
- Restrict access to retained images and information with clear rules on who can gain access and for what purpose such access is granted; the disclosure of images and information should only take place when it is necessary for such a purpose or for law enforcement;
- Consider any approved operational, technical and competency standards relevant to a system and its purpose and work to meet and maintain those standards;
- Be subject to appropriate security measures to safeguard against unauthorised access and use;
- Have effective review and audit mechanisms to ensure legal requirements, policies and standards are complied with in practice and regular reports should be published;
- Be used in the most effective way to support public safety and law enforcement with the aim of processing images and information of evidential value, when used in pursuit of a legitimate aim;
- Be accurate and kept up to date when any information is used to support a surveillance camera system which compares against a reference database for matching purposes.
The Code applies to CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems.
For more information on whether your system is compliant with the new Code of Practice please contact i2 Security Limited.