How CCTV is used in the community

Closed circuit television (CCTV) records images of people in certain public places including town centres, roads, airports, and on public transport. CCTV images can be used as evidence in court. You can request CCTV recordings of yourself.

CCTV in public places

CCTV is designed to help prevent and detect crime.  It can reassure the public about community safety. It is located in public places to:

  • provide evidence to relevant enforcement agencies
  • maintain public order
  • prevent antisocial behaviour and nuisance
  • provide reassurance
  • promote economic well being

Cameras record images twenty four hours every day. CCTV operators watch lives images at strategic times in a local monitoring suite. If they notice criminal activity on camera, they can direct police response to the incident.

Town centre CCTV

Town centre CCTV schemes follow a code of practice. 

CCTV footage as evidence

CCTV can sometimes be used in court as evidence to prove someone was in a certain place or that they committed an offence.

It can also improve community safety and prevent crime. For example, deterring someone committing a crime like robbery if they know CCTV will record their actions.

To read police guidance on how CCTV is used, go to:

How to ask for CCTV footage

You have the right to access images of yourself that may have been recorded by a CCTV camera system. Public organisations like local councils need to make any personal data available to you if you ask them.

Personal data is information that relates to an individual and is held by a public  organisation.

You need to write to the owner of the CCTV system. The owner's contact information is usually on a sign attached to the camera.

You need to give them enough information to identify you, for example a specific date and time, and a description of yourself and your clothing. The operator can charge you up to £10 for a copy of the footage.

Your images on CCTV film

If you contact a public organisation that has CCTV footage of you, they must give you a copy of the images within 40 days.

They can send you an edited version of the CCTV footage to protect the identities of other people shown in the footage.

The CCTV recording may be edited to make sure that you can’t see any other personal data that doesn’t relate to you, like:

  • a vehicle registration number that is not yours
  • an unfair intrusion into the privacy of another person

Contact your local council for more information about how CCTV is used in your community, or see their CCTV code of practice for more about the use of CCTV cameras and data protection.

To read the Information Commissioner's CCTV code of practice, go to:

More useful links

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