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We are often asked what the regulations and laws are regarding CCTV footage in nightclubs and bars in the UK. It’s tricky to know specifically how long CCTV footage must kept, and what the regulations regarding storage and proper usage are.
What are the laws regarding CCTV footage?
The Data Protection Act (1998) is a law which applies to the storage of information. It is designed to prevent the misuse of personal information by placing legal obligations on anybody who handles it. The Data Protection Act laws provide a means of regulatory control on the use of CCTV. This ensures that individuals may enjoy security whilst being assured that rights to personal privacy will not be unduly compromised.
Any business that keeps records of customers’ details, or uses a CCTV system, may need to register with the Information Commissioner.
How long should we keep the footage?
A retention time of 31 days has commonly been used for most CCTV applications and is still recommended by police.
However, it may be appropriate to make your decision on the retention times according to the likely severity of the incident that requires monitoring. It may not always be necessary for the owners of a small premises to retain all data for 31 days. The events captured are likely to be less serious in nature, or “one-off” incidents. In these cases, a minimum retention time of 14 days is recommended as this provides sufficient time for the authorities to attend the scene and retrieve the video in the event of an incident. It also respected the advice of the Information Commissioner that data should not be retained for longer than necessary.
A town centre venue that may capture details of a serious crime or major incident should definitely retain all footage for 31 days, if not longer. In the event of a major incident it may prove valuable to the police to be able to review the video of the days, hours and minutes prior to the event as well as of the event itself.
How long can I keep footage of an incident?
While the 31 days retention period is recommended, following an incident it may be necessary to keep footage for longer. If you have been made aware of an accident or incident, we recommend copying any relevant CCTV footage onto a separate tape or disc. Your customers can put forward claim proceedings for a period of three years after the alleged incident. So having CCTV footage will help to discredit any allegations made against your business at a later date.
The benefits of CCTV for your venue
From an insurance perspective, CCTV can certainly help in defending claims from patrons who say they have slipped and tripped or claim they have been assaulted in your venue. CCTV footage can also help to prove that an individual was already drunk when entering your establishment. If they are visibly drunk, then by rights the venue should not have allowed them entry and/or served them alcohol. Many of these types of claims may well be spurious either wholly or in part. The process of retaining footage of incidents could prove invaluable.
In addition, CCTV can act as a good deterrent against theft and fraud by unscrupulous customers and staff alike. CCTV coverage can help to make sure your venue does not become a target for any organised or opportunist criminals.
Do you want to learn more about the regulations and laws surrounding CCTV? Our whitepaper covers:
- The rules and regulations surrounding CCTV
- CCTV and GDPR
- The business benefits of CCTV