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Concerns about a police request for CCTV footage

If I disclose CCTV footage to the police, may I be in breach of the Data Protection Act?

Q: I have a CCTV system installed at my premises and the Police have asked that I send them a copy of the complete recording obtained last weekend. There is not a condition on my premises licence, which relates to CCTV provision, but I am concerned if I disclose all the CCTV footage that I may be in breach of the Data Protection Act.

A: You are right to be concerned as although the Police are entitled to request information from you, consideration must be given to your obligations under data protection legislation. If you use CCTV at your premises, you must register with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) as a ‘data controller’ and guidance and helpful information can be found on the ICO’s website at http://ico.org.uk.

Under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998, you can release information to the police provided that you are satisfied that only the minimum information is disclosed, which is required to assist them in the prevention or detection of a crime or aid in the apprehension of an offender. You must also be satisfied that any investigation or police action would be harmed if you did not provide the information requested. Whilst it may be unlikely that the police would request such information should this not be the case, the Data Protection Act requires that the Police should be able to justify their requests for CCTV images, which cannot simply be a ‘fishing expedition’ for information.

Even those premises which have conditions on their licence setting out duties to provide CCTV to the police should be aware that all licence conditions and obligations must be lawful and compliant with the Data Protection Act.

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