Regulating CCTV use in the UK
We have grown to tolerate and, in certain cases, accept that CCTV is always behind the scenes recording our day-to-day activities. A report published by the British Security Industry Association in July 2013, estimated that there were up to 5.9 million CCTV cameras operating in the UK, approximately one for every 11 citizens. Given these numbers, it is perhaps understandable that people question whether it is right that we have allowed CCTV to become so ubiquitous and whether we have failed to heed the warning of the previous information commissioner, Richard Thomas, against ‘sleep walking into a surveillance society’.
Although the spread of CCTV has been rapid, public concerns about its intrusion into our lives have been limited. There are a number of reasons for this: the initial limitations of the technology, including storage memory capacity and poor image resolution, acted as a brake on the retention and use of images; the fact that that the CCTV systems privately owned by businesses and shops outnumber those operated by the police and local authorities by as many as 70 to one; and the existence of a complex web of regulation, guidance and standards that has evolved over time and is relevant to those operating CCTV.
However, with technological developments and the increase of CCTV in public places, as we look ahead to the future of CCTV within our society, the role of regulation and guidance will become increasingly important…
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