New surveillance camera strategy provides guidance for local authorities

Local authorities across the country are being encouraged to take positive steps to share more information about how they use surveillance camera systems under a new national strategy.

Tony Porter, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, has launched a national surveillance camera strategy for England and Wales, to help keep people safe in public places and respect their right to privacy.

This strategy aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community to enable councils to understand good and best practice and their legal obligations (such as those contained within the Protection of Freedoms Act, Data Protection Act and Private Security Industry Act). This includes the requirement for councils to share how they operating cameras and the use of the data obtained.

It is the commissioner’s strategic vision to ensure the public are assured that any use of surveillance camera systems in a public place helps to protect and keep them safe, while respecting the individual’s right to privacy. That assurance is based upon deployment which is proportionate to a legitimate purpose, and transparency which demonstrates compliance with best and good practice and relevant legal obligations.

The strategy aligns closely to the Home Office responsibilities to keep the UK safe from the threat of terrorism and to reduce and prevent crime and ensure people feel safe in their homes and communities.

Porter said: “After a year of hard work I’m delighted to be able to launch this strategy. It’s a strategy that is far reaching, touching on many areas of surveillance camera use – police and local authority, installers and manufacturers, training providers and regulators – and of course how the use of surveillance cameras impacts members of the public.

“The responses to the consultation on the draft show that this strategy is extremely well supported as do the number of organisations that have written to me to show their support. I look forward to delivering on this for the next 3 years ensuring that where surveillance cameras are used they keep people safe whilst protecting their right to privacy.

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