Do I have a legal right to obtain CCTV footage of myself?

What is meant by CCTV?

CCTV is the abbreviated term for closed circuit television and refers to cameras used to film and monitor what is happening in certain premises or public places.

The UK is recognised as a leading user of CCTV and cameras are a common sight on practically every high street in the country. Mainly this is used to address security concerns of businesses and individuals and is often administered by local councils to provide information to bodies such as the police.

Data Protection Act 1998

The use of CCTV is governed by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998) which dictates that bodies using CCTV must usually:

  • inform people they are being recorded – usually with the use of signs which must be clear and readable;
  • tell the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) why they are using the CCTV;
  • only use the CCTV for the purpose it was intended;
  • control who can see the recordings.

Do I have a legal right to obtain footage of myself taken from CCTV?

CCTV footage of an individual falls under the definition of ‘personal data’ under DPA 1998. Accordingly, you have a legal right under the Act to be provided with access to this data.

Organisations must provide the footage within 40 days of the request being made. They are allowed to charge you up to £10 to provide the footage.

You have the right to know:

  • what information is being used;
  • why it’s being used;
  • where it came from;
  • who can see the information.

Data protection rules don’t apply if you install a camera on your own home to protect it from burglary.

How do I request CCTV footage of myself from an organisatrion?

If you wish to be provided with access to CCTV footage of yourself from an organisation, you should make a written request to the owner of the CCTV system.

The details of the owner of the CCTV system will usually be written on a sign attached to the camera.

Certain information will need to be provided to the owner of the CCTV system for them to identify you. For example the following information must usually be provided:

  • a date;
  • a time;
  • a full description of your appearance;
  • a full description of the clothes you were wearing.

You’ll need to pay your £10 fee if required and the footage must be provided within 40 days of the request being made.

It is likely that the public body will send an edited version of the CCTV footage to protect the identities of other people or vehicle registrations shown in the footage.

Article written by...
Nicola Laver LLB
Nicola Laver LLB

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A non-practising solicitor, Nicola is also a fully qualified journalist. For the past 20 years, she has worked as a legal journalist, editor and author.