East Yorkshire CCTV Fiasco highlights the failure of CCTV in the UK.

CCTV is considered by many to erode the civil liberties of citizens. Like PSPO their use is encouraged by the Government in an attempt to appease middle England into believing that they are being tough on crime despite the UK Austerity Programme that resulted in Police funding cuts.

To use CCTV in a public place in the UK a legal framework must be complied with. This includes:

  1. Data Protection Act (DPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which regulates how personal data can be processed and moved, and how it must be protected.
  2. The Freedom of Information Act (FOI), which regulates access to information held by public authorities
  3. The Protection of Freedoms Act (POFA), which regulates (among others) how surveillance and biometric data can be used, and how these types of data must be safeguarded.
  4. The Human Rights Act (HRA), which includes provisions regarding the right to privacy

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

Users of CCTV in a public place must register with the ICO as a CCTV operator. There must be:

  • A stated purpose for the CCTV system
  • A Privacy Impact Assessment
  • A Data Controller


The CCTV operator must let people know they are using CCTV. Signs are the most usual way of doing this.

The signs must be clearly visible and readable and should include the details of the organisation operating the system if not obvious.

Subject Access Request (SAR)

The DPA gives everyone the right to see the information held about them by Government Bodies, including CCTV images, or images which give away information about you (such as your car number plate). This is called a SAR.

Please see Guidance to make a Subject Access Request.

NB: It is free to make a SAR.


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