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Surveillance camera commissioner writes to councils

16/12/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

The surveillance camera commissioner has urged town and parish councils to be careful in their use of the technology.

CCTV camera

Tony Porter has written to the organisations reminding them of the rules around the use of surveillance cameras in public places and urging them to use the self-assessment tool on his organisation’s website to see if they are compliant with data protection legislation.

In the letter, published by the National Association of Local Councils, he says: “It has come to my attention that there are some instances where (local councils) are installing ANPR cameras to monitor low speed zones. These systems typically capture data (number plates) and feed it via the internet to a server in partnership with a third party supplier.

“I fully understand that speeding offences can be of great concern to you and the communities you serve, and I would not wish to preclude you from tackling these issues head-on.

“That said, ANPR can be an extremely intrusive system, and you must ensure that you are using it within the boundaries of the law, including the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, the General Data Protection Regulations and the Data Protection Act 2018.

Partnership warning

He goes on to say that local councils also need to be wary of working in partnership with third parties, keeping in mind the Surveillance Camera Code. The code states that they should ensure partnership arrangements are not being established without proper management controls being applied.

Failing to do this can intensify the risk of legal actions and reputational damage, he says.

Image: Otto Normalverbraucher, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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