If a crime has taken place in your home or in your area and you have CCTV cameras in or around your home, you might be wondering if the police can check the footage. Perhaps you’re the only one on your street with it meaning you’re the only one being asked and you don’t know what to do for the best.
The truth is, the police CAN check your footage but perhaps not as easily as you might think. Read on to find out more about the rules surrounding CCTV and what rights the police have…
Public versus private
Public CCTV would be that which you find on streets, car parks, highways, parks etc. As these areas are deemed public, the police are able to access the footage filmed in these spaces. It is unlikely to be in real-time, it is more likely to be a download of a recording.
Private CCTV footage would be classified as anything on privately owned land such as your home, small business premises, pubs etc. If, however, your cameras happen to catch footage on areas such as pavements then that would classify as public meaning the rules are slightly different. This footage would need to comply with the Data Protection Act.
What the law says about your CCTV footage
If the CCTV is capturing footage of members of the public in public areas, the police are able to get access to this and don’t need permission in the same way as they do with private footage.
When it comes to your personal CCTV footage, police can get access to it but it must be in accordance with Section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984). This states that they can have it if they believe “it is evidence in relation to an offence which he is investigating or any other offence”.
What the police will do
The police would need to request access to your home security cameras in the first instance. They should give you information as to why they are requesting access, including a crime reference number. It’s worth noting that it might not necessarily be about a crime on your property. For example, it might be that someone passed through your garden before or after committing a crime elsewhere. This information would still be useful for the police and your outdoor WiFi camera might give just give them that extra bit of evidence they need.
If you were to say no, the police do have the right and the ability to follow certain channels in order to encourage you to surrender the footage, such as obtaining a search warrant. This rarely occurs as the reasons for requesting films from security cameras is usually clear and most people are happy to help.
The police can get access to your CCTV camera footage but only when absolutely necessary. They will only ever ask for it in order to help solve crimes local to you and there are certain measures in place to ensure it is only used in safe and appropriate ways.
Posted on 25th Jun 2020 by Time2 Technology