Up to now, well up to last week, the use of CCTV for domestic purposes was exempt for the purposes of the Data Protection Act, backed up the EU Directive - “This (the Data Protection Directive) shall not apply to the processing of personal data …. by a natural person in the course of a purely personal or household activity”. Not any more, if the camera’s view covers any area beyond the boundary of the property.
It is still perfectly legal to film beyond the boundary of your property but as of 20 January 2016 failure to register is a criminal offence. And registration will cost you £35.
Why the change? Well, all the EU member states operate in much the same way and are subject to the same directive, so what affects one affects them all. Back in 2014, in Czechoslovakia, a criminal challenged the local laws for that country and the European Court of Justice ruled that filming beyond the boundary was not purely a personal or household activity. The householder Mr Rynes was fined, and the fine later rescinded because he was helping the Police. But the bottom line is that the ECJ ruling means that householders filming beyond the boundary do fall within the DPA and therefore must register.
However, while the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) have considered this and have now implemented the new rules, (it’s on their website) there has been no public information programme to inform the general public nor has the mainstream media picked it up.
The result is that tens of thousands of households are now unknowingly breaking the law and can be prosecuted, plus the detrimental knock-on effect on crime reduction and detection.
In one West London ward, household CCTV has resulted in over 110 arrests in the past 5 years alone, and burglaries have halved. Householders actively work with the Police to catch criminals and the vast majority of successes have been achieved through evidence taken from household CCTV systems filming beyond the boundary.
If householders start to turn their cameras inwards to avoid the fee – criminals will realise this, and burglaries will rise, whilst detection rates will plummet, as other householders with cameras will avoid offering footage for fear of prosecution.
If you think this is bad the ICO originally wanted to publish everyone by name and postal address on the searchable register – which would have meant that criminals could just put in an area name and it would have listed all residents with CCTV cameras, and show a camera-free getaway route. The ICO changed this after it was pointed it out, and there is now an option to show only an email address against your name in the online register.
An online petition was launched 19th Feb 2016. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/122236
This is not about registration. It’s about the fee – a tax on crime prevention and helping the Police.
And ask your MP to enquire if the Minister for Justice Michael Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May even know about this fee and its impact on crime?
Source: Hillingdon Neighbourhood Watch