Business | Security | Belfast

Can CCTV be used in court cases concerning my home or business?

CCTV is now a mainstay of public life. When we drive in our cars, walk to the shops or enter most public buildings, there’s a high possibility that we are being watched through the lens of a camera, courtesy of CCTV.

In 2011, there was one CCTV camera for every 32 UK citizens. By 2016, this number had risen to one CCTV camera for every 11 citizens, making the UK the leading country in the world for surveillance of its own citizens.

It is now estimated that the average person is caught on CCTV over 70 times per day across the UK and Ireland, ringing true the age old assertion that ‘big brother is watching you.’

But, how does this fit in with our security, and prosecutions for criminals or burglars who trespass, steal items or cause damage to a home or business property?

Firstly, let’s address the key question in all of this. Is CCTV footage admissible in court?

In short, the answer is yes!

That said, like anything which ventures into the legal stratosphere, it’s not always straightforward.

Primarily, it is imperative that a CCTV system is compliant with restrictions under the Data Protection Act in order to be admissible in court.

In terms of recent examples of where CCTV would have been admissible, we only have to look at the controversy surrounding the case of Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey and the incident over a fall from a swing at a Dublin hotel.

We learned that video evidence from the hotel in Dublin was set to feature in the case if it had gone to trial, and had a major bearing on it not progressing, thus underlining the importance of having a CCTV system which meets compliance.

So, what are the Data protection stipulations essential for ensuring CCTV can be utilised in court?

  • CCTV must not invade anyone else’s privacy.
  • It must have clear and visible signs outside showing that it is in operation.
  • The owner must only use the footage for the purpose for which is has been taken, e.g. for keeping an eye on any suspicious people on your property. It should NOT be used for monitoring neighbours or people working in your home.
  • You must only keep the footage for as long as it’s needed.
  • Finally, you should also make sure that the time and date of the recording is clear, and that the footage is stored securely so that it cannot be tampered with.

The PSNI provide some very useful information on this very subject:

“Good quality CCTV is invaluable to a criminal investigation. Grainy, blurry or otherwise poor quality images may capture a crime taking place but will not allow for any identification to be made.”

Similarly, specifically for businesses, the PSNI state:

“CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) systems are an important security aspect for your business and can help us with your criminal investigation. It is recommended that all businesses install a CCTV system whether it is for basic monitoring or a high resolution security system that can lead to identification or prosecution.”

Whether it’s your home, or business, CCTV is now a vital cog in ensuring the safety of your assets. As home or business owners, we all hope that we will never have to deal with a break-in, theft, or damage to our property, however, if it does happen, CCTV can be the difference in ensuring the offender/s is brought to justice and that you are fully compensated for your losses.

For more information on CCTV, and how we can help your home or business today, call (028)90663510.

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