Protecting your Home with CCTV

Many homeowners are willing to consider all of the available options when it comes to protecting their homes. Security lights and home alarm systems are both popular choices. One of the other options that are available to homeowners is Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV). Although installing CCTV can be a great way to dissuade criminals from targeting your home and can be a big help in catching any criminals who do manage to break in, homeowners should also be aware that there are certain restrictions around the use of CCTV.

In the United Kingdom, there are specific laws in place that affect how and when CCTC cameras can be used. Homeowners who are not using their cameras in a responsible manner may end up being reported to the Surveillance Camera Commissioner and could be forced to remove the cameras from their home.

Many of the hurdles that are faced by those who wish to put CCTV up on their property centre around data protection issues. Cameras should be carefully placed to minimise the intrusion to the privacy of your neighbours and any passers-by. These cameras should not be pointed at any public area (including the pavement outside of your home), as this could cause a serious data protection breach. If a neighbour’s garden is within the range of the camera, you should consider fitting privacy filters so that the camera does not collect any images from their private property. You may want to speak to your neighbours and offer to show them what you have done to the cameras to help to ease their fears.

You should always inform your neighbours that you are planning on putting CCTV up. You should also display a notice informing people that CCTV is in operation, even though the CCTV is only covering your land. This notice will help to inform anyone who visits your home that they are being recorded during their visit.

Once your system is up and running, you should take the time to consider how long you are intending to store the video recordings for. The Data Protection Act states that you should only keep data for as long as necessary to protect your property. This is especially important if your cameras have filmed any third-party visitors (trades persons, friends etc) who have not posed a threat to your property.

You must also take the time to understand how the system works. If you did not install the system yourself, you should ask the installer to show you how it works. Ignorance of the system will not normally be accepted by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner if you are reported for any breach of use. Check that you are getting a clear picture of the area that you are recording, but be aware of the limitations of the system that you are using. If you have any doubts about the system, ask the installer before they leave. Alternatively, contact the makers of the equipment to ask any questions that are raised over time.

The most common place for CCTV to be installed is in the back garden of a house. This area is often used by criminals to gain access to a property, because it tends to offer better cover than the front of the house does. Many installation specialists will suggest that CCTV cameras are teamed up with motion sensor security lights. Although good CCTV cameras will be able to pick up some images in low-level light conditions, they will not normally produce clear images. A motion-sensor light will help to illuminate the faces of the intruders so that your cameras will be able to get clearer images of them.

Once you are happy with your system, you should make sure that you perform regular maintenance tasks on it to make sure that it continues to work to your liking.  This should include technical maintenance to ensure that the system is recording properly, as well as physical maintenance tasks, like making sure that system continues to point to the right place and that nothing is obstructing the camera lens. Imagine suffering a break-in at your home, only to discover that the CCTV camera view has been blocked by fallen leaves or bird poo?

If there is a break-in at your home, inform the police as soon as possible and let them know that you have some recordings from the incident. Do not share the images on social media and do not try to tackle the perpetrators by yourself, even if you know who they are. The police should be able to use your recordings as evidence against the people who broke into your house. However, the evidence may not be admissible to court if you have breached any of the rules that are set out by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner.