Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched? Well, that’s because you probably are: According to the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), there are between 4 and 5.9 million CCTV cameras operating in the UK, making us one of the world’s most surveilled nations. When we walk down the street, enter a shop, dine in our favourite restaurant or hop on the bus home, there are multiple cameras tracking our every step.

We’re living in a surveillance society and if you’re a business owner with assets to protect and staff to safeguard, then there’s no doubt you’ve already considered using CCTV. Some of the other reasons why businesses use CCTV include:

  • To deter thieves (when installed externally in highly visible locations).
  • To help focus staff, and assess and improve productivity.
  • To prevent theft or violence within buildings.
  • To limit the chance of any misconduct.
  • To ensure that health and safety guidelines are being adhered to.

Evidently, there are many pros to having CCTV installed in your commercial property, but what about the cons? Perhaps the greatest downside is the impact installing cameras can have on a business’ employees. People may find them intrusive and feel mistrusted, which could potentially tarnish the employer-employee relationship. So, if you plan to use CCTV, it’s vital to consider how your team is likely to be affected.

When installing CCTV in a commercial property there are a number of legal requirements set out by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), under the Data Protection Act, that business owners must be aware of. These include:

  • All employees must be informed if a business plans to use CCTV. They should understand the reasons why cameras are being used and know the areas where they are installed.
  • Signs should be clearly displayed to let people know that CCTV is being used and for what reason.
  • You must notify the ICO that you are using CCTV and for what purpose. It’s then important that you use cameras solely for the purpose stated; so, if you set up cameras in order to monitor crime, then you shouldn’t be using them in order to spy on your employees’ Facebook activity!
  • Any data gained from CCTV must be dealt with in a sensitive manner. You must limit who has access to the footage and ensure that images are kept only for as long as your business needs them.
  • You must share any footage with the authorities, such as the police, if they request it.
  • Anyone is able to ask to see footage that you have recorded of them. It’s your duty to provide images up to 40 days old and you may charge a fee of up to £10.
  • Non-compliance could land any business in serious trouble, so it’s worth familiarising yourself with the ICO’s ‘data protection code of practice for surveillance cameras and personal information.

When used in the right way, for the right reasons, CCTV cameras can provide peace of mind for businesses, ensuring that staff and assets are well-protected.


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