CCTV is considered by many to erode the civil liberties of citizens. Their use is encouraged by the Government in an attempt to appease middle England into believing that they are being tough on crime despite 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 that give away information about you (such as your car number plate). This is called a SAR.

NB: It is free to make a SAR.

Please see Guidance to make a Subject Access Request.

Please see:

Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO)

In 2014 legislation was introduced that gave Local Authorities the power to introduce Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO).

In truth, PSPO is proving to be used to erode the civil liberties of citizens. They are being used to persecute the homeless, prevent cycling in a Town Centre, curtail the enjoyment of a picnic in a park and stop an HGV parking overnight. Ironically many PSPO are unenforceable for various reasons.

While legislation is introduced by Parliament and Byelaws are approved by Central Government a PSPO is subject to none of this.