Guide

Protect your business against crime

CCTV surveillance

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) uses cameras to monitor the inside and/or outside of your premises. Some CCTV systems require manual operation, either by a private monitoring company or an appropriate member of staff.

Benefits of CCTV

CCTV can help by:

  • deterring thieves
  • watching remote areas or more than one area at once
  • enabling premises to be watched in safety
  • helping police to identify and prosecute intruders

Choosing a CCTV system

Your choice of CCTV system will depend on the value of your stock, machinery or office equipment and the type and location of your premises.

Ask your insurance company or crime prevention officer for advice. You can find an approved security supplier.

Placing the cameras

Position cameras in areas:

  • particularly vulnerable to intruders
  • where staff could be alone or at risk, such as car parks
  • hidden from view or which are particularly quiet

You should put up a notice stating that you have a CCTV system. Cameras need to be easy to spot to have a deterrent effect. You can use dummy cameras as a cheap deterrent, either on their own or to make a real CCTV system look bigger. However, relying heavily on these is risky because potential thieves might realise they are fake.

Try to:

  • protect cameras from attack
  • avoid blocking camera views with high-sided vans, trees, etc
  • adopt a tape archive system that can be used as evidence if necessary

Make sure that the system is correctly set up and that tapes are capable of recording images clearly. If the system is not recording images sufficiently it may be difficult to identify the perpetrators. 

Insurance requirements

Your insurers may specify the kind of system they want you to install. They may also want your system and installer to be inspected by the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or SSAIB.

CCTV and data protection

If your business uses closed-circuit television (CCTV), you have a legal duty under the Data Protection Act to make sure that individuals' rights are protected. You must register with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) if your business operates CCTV. Failure to do so is a criminal offence and you could face a fine.

CCTV operators must follow the correct procedures when they gather, store and handle images:

  • You must tell people that they may be recorded by CCTV, eg by displaying signs. These must be clearly visible and readable.
  • Individuals have the right to request images that you have recorded of them. You must provide these within 40 days and may charge up to £10.
  • Release of CCTV images must be controlled and in line with the system's intended purpose. For example, if the system is intended to help prevent and detect crime, you can disclose images to law enforcement agencies.
  • You should only keep recorded images for as long as needed.

The ICO has produced updated guidance to help users of CCTV comply with their legal obligations