CCTV Legislation – a simple guide to UK CCTV laws


CCTV legislation was introduced in the UK in 2012, followed by a Code of Conduct in 2013.  CCTV recordings are also covered by the Data Protection Act.  Sounds complicated? We provide a simple guide below.

More and more people are investing in CCTV cameras to protect their properties and why not? It’s the sensible thing to do. However, many people are unaware of the various pieces of CCTV legislation and their personal responsibilities under the law.

There are 3 main pieces of CCTV legislation:

– The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
– The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice 2013 (the ‘SCCOP’)
– The Data Protection Act (the ‘DPA’)

The Information Commissioner’s Office, or ‘ICO’ is responsible for enforcing this legislation.

CCTV legislation UK - CCTV company Surrey, London, Berkshire, HampshireThe SCCOP legislation is designed to balance the need for CCTV cameras with the public’s right to privacy. Some of the SCCOP only applies to CCTV for commercial use.

The DPA legislation gives individuals the right to see information held about them, including CCTV recordings.

If you have residential CCTV, you are NOT affected by the DPA, unless your cameras are set up to record beyond the boundary of your property (e.g. the pavement)

– You can read the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice 2013 here.
– You can read about the Data Protection Act and CCTV here.

Most people haven’t got the time or inclination to read the SCCOP and DPA themselves (understandably).

So to keep things simple, we’ve read all of the UK CCTV legislation for you and provided straightforward, easy-to-follow, guidelines for domestic and commercial users of CCTV below.

(If you still have questions after that, just get in touch, we’ll be happy to help.)


Guidelines for Domestic CCTV:

Firstly, please be aware that there have been complaints to the police and the ICO from people believing CCTV was used to spy on them, so it’s important to follow UK CCTV legislation guidelines closely.

As the homeowner, you are personally responsible for making sure your CCTV system is installed correctly and you comply with guidelines.

If you are unsure at any time, then please get in touch with your CCTV company.


1. Know why you want CCTV and which specific areas it will monitor

2. Tell your neighbours you are installing CCTV

3. Put at least one notice up, warning there is CCTV on the property

4. Position your CCTV cameras for minimal intrusion, e.g. avoiding a neighbour’s property

5. If you can’t help it, consider using privacy masking

(Privacy masking is technology that ‘blanks’ out sensitive areas on a recording, like a neighbour’s window.)

6. If you operate CCTV outside of the boundary of your property and don’t privacy mask, then you may need to register as a CCTV operator with the Information Commissioner’s Office. Get in touch to check.

Contact the ICO here.

7. Do not record conversations between members of the public

8. Do not install CCTV in traditionally private places, such as toilets

9. Don’t keep recordings for longer than you need (31 days is standard)

10. Delete older CCTV recordings regularly

11. Do not use CCTV recordings for any purpose other than protecting your property

12. Do not share any CCTV recordings publicly e.g. on social media sites

13. Keep recordings secure and restrict access to them

14. Make sure you understand exactly how your CCTV system works so you’re not caught out

15. Make sure the date & time are set correctly

16. Make sure you have enough recording space

17. Check your CCTV system regularly and maintain it (we recommend an annual service)


Find out more about CCTV installation here.

Find out more about CCTV servicing here.


Guidelines for Commercial CCTV:

cctv commercial use - cctv legislation ukBecause CCTV recording is governed by the Data Protection Act, businesses can be liable for fines of up to £500,000 if it is misused. So it’s important to make sure guidelines are closely followed.

As the person responsible for CCTV in your business, it is your duty to make sure the CCTV system is installed correctly and the company complies with CCTV legislation guidelines.

If you are unsure at any time, then please get in touch with your CCTV company.


1. Register with the Information Commissioner’s Office as a CCTV operator

2. Have a stated purpose for your CCTV system and review this regularly

3. Carry out a Privacy Impact Assessment and publish this if appropriate

(You can find out more about Privacy Impact Assessments here.)

4. Put up clear signage, warning there is CCTV surveillance on the property

5. Publish the name of someone in your business that people can raise queries and complaints with

6. Appoint a person responsible for your CCTV system

7. Implement clear rules, policies, and procedures around CCTV surveillance for your business

8. Make sure your staff are fully aware of their responsibilities and any policies and procedures

9. Make sure CCTV recordings are captured and stored securely

10. Don’t keep recordings for longer than you need (31 days is standard)

11. Delete older CCTV recordings regularly and in a secure way

12. Restrict staff access to CCTV recordings and implement a disclosure policy

14. Don’t record conversations between members of the public

15. Follow recognised technical and operational standards as appropriate

(Your CCTV company should be able to advise on these)

16. Do not install CCTV in private spaces such as changing rooms and toilets

17. Make sure recordings you capture can be used by the police and courts if necessary, e.g. by ensuring the date and time are set correctly

18. Audit your CCTV operation regularly to check legal requirements, policies and standards are complied with

19. Publish your audit findings in a document

20. If you are using your CCTV system to cross-reference against a database (for example, if you are checking car number plates), then make sure your reference database is accurate and up to date

Find out more about CCTV installation here.

Find out more about CCTV servicing here.


We hope this simple guide has been useful to you, but if you have any further questions, or to talk to us about installing a CCTV system, please just get in touch on 0845 845 3001 or email us at Our friendly team will be happy to help.

Alternatively, you can send us a contact request by clicking the button below.

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