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Law: The Surveillance Society – who’s watching whom?

CCTV may seem like extra pairs of eyes around the workplace but with its use comes responsibilities in the form of Data Protection Law.

The first question to ask yourself is whether you actually need it.

Are you just paranoid or nosy or have you installed it in response to a genuine business need for increased security.

Are you just sloppy with control of keys for say a safe, in which case can the problem be overcome in a different way?

Those that are in charge of such systems must ensure that there is a policy in place so that those that use the images are aware of the rights or otherwise of the people requesting disclosure of the images and, of course, so that employees who may be observed are aware of the fact and how the information will be used.

If you are planning to use the images in disciplinary proceedings you need to retain the footage so that the employee has the right to respond.

A still image will generally not be sufficient to record an activity.

CCTV should not be used in areas which could be expected to be private eg toilets, private offices.

It would be considered proportionate to the problem to monitor an area where goods or cash are suspected of being stolen but it would be ‘over the top’ to put cameras near private desks to monitor use of mobile phones.

Only in very exceptional circumstances and generally where criminal activity is suspected should covert observation be carried out.

In such cases the monitoring should cease once the crime has been investigated.

Last but not least remember that you must be registered with the Information Commissioners Office if you are using a camera in the workplace.

Visit or call 0870 26 77 118 for more information.

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