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Watch out Big Brother

Considering installing CCTV in your licenced premises. Read these guidelines by solicitor Andy Grimsey

There have been genuine concerns expressed that in certain licensing authority areas standard CCTV conditions are finding themselves on many Premises Licences irrespective of the nature and type of the operation. More worryingly, when the police recommend these sometime complex conditions, Council Licensing Authorities, legal advisers and operators often accept these conditions without necessarily asking the Police to justify their request.

The trade and authorities must be aware that the addition of any conditions to a premises licence must be appropriate and proportionate to promote the licensing objectives. If a premises has no history of crime and disorder then it could be argued that this blanket approach to imposing standard CCTV conditions on all licences in an authority area is purely to snoop on, rather than prevent crime and disorder or protect, the public.

Often, as part of the condition the police stipulate a requirement that all footage must be made available to them immediately on request. The Data Protection Act 1988, the Information Commissioners CCTV and the Home Office Surveillance Camera Codes of Practice make it clear that any request for CCTV footage must be proportionate and have a legitimate aim.

Disclosure is only permitted for the prevention and detection of crime, prosecution, apprehension of offenders or if it is required by law, for example, checking that the system is being used in accordance with conditions on a Premises Licence. The Police must therefore justify their request for CCTV footage. Disclosure should not be automatically provided to the Police for them to undertake any type of intrusive or speculative search.

However, there is real value in installing a CCTV system and many operators see the benefits, even though they may not be necessarily required to do so under the provisions of their Premises Licence.

Below are a few guidelines as to what should be considered if you have or are considering installing CCTV:

  • Ideally, installation should be by an approved engineer. Some police authorities will assist with the location of cameras as part of a free service, but equally, some will recommend unnecessarily excessive amounts which will have obvious financial implications.
  • It may be worth signing up to an annual maintenance contract
  • Public areas should be covered, including entrances, exits and if appropriate, outside areas
  • Images should be clear, and allow for proper identification of your customers in any light condition.
  • The majority of police forces ask that images are securely retained for a minimum of 28 days. You should ensure that your system is able to do this
  • Ensure that there is constant and accurate date and time printed on the CCTV footage, and also a facility to ensure that British Summertime is taken into account
  • There should be security to ensure the system is tamper proof. It may be worth investing in a failsafe system to give early warning of a fault
  • Understand the relevant parts of the Data Protection Act 1988, the Information Commissioners Office CCTV and the Home Office’s Surveillance Camera Codes of Practice.
  • Teach members of your staff to be able to:
  1. Properly operate the CCTV system.
  2. Provide viewing immediately on request, but in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1988;
  3. Provide copies of footage, again in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1988.
  • Ensure that staff CCTV training is regular, fully recorded and retained
  • Either a company or an individual should be registered as a CCTV Data Controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office
  • Finally, you must let customers know that they are in an area where CCTV surveillance is being carried out

Many take a view that the installation of a CCTV system and its proper use should not be purely to comply with conditions on a Premises Licence. The use of an effective security system not only protects the business and detects crime and disorder but assists in protecting and giving comfort to members of staff and the public.

A CCTV system also has an obvious use in that advertising it use helps to deter those intent on causing a nuisance or committing crime and disorder.

For further information please contact licensing solicitor, Andy Grimsey on 0115 953 8500.

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