Council expresses concern over private CCTV networkPublished Friday, 12th February 2021
Hartlepool Borough Council has today (Friday 12th February) written to the coordinators of a private CCTV network which is operating in the West Park/Naisberry Park/Eden Park areas.
The letters follow complaints from members of the public who are uncomfortable that their movements, and those of their families, are being filmed and circulated amongst what is believed to be several hundred members of the public.
The cameras which have been installed onto residents’ houses in the area are described as being capable of facial recognition and motion tracking – meaning that they follow, and film, anyone who passes by at any time of the day or night.
A Council spokesperson said: “We have received complaints from a number of local residents who are extremely concerned at the thought of being filmed wherever they go and that their children, families, loved ones and even their vehicles are being filmed and monitored without their permission.”
One complainant said: “I fully understand why people like the idea of CCTV cameras to help deter crime but this is not a high crime area.
“I am really concerned that my children are being filmed whenever they leave my house and that footage of this is being shared with people I do not know. How do I know that someone is not using this network to stalk me or my children or to figure out the best time to burgle my house?”
The Council spokesperson continued: “Whilst the Council fully supports communities that look to work together and support each other, it cannot condone private CCTV networks that allow for the uncontrolled surveillance of other law-abiding members of the public.
“The Council has registered its concerns, and those of the complainants, with the Information Commissioner’s Office which is the national regulator for surveillance and data protection.
“In writing to the coordinators of the network, explaining what steps need to be taken to comply with the law, we are not only trying to protect those residents who are being filmed without their permission, we are also trying to protect those residents who may have joined the scheme, and installed cameras, without being made fully aware that they may be breaching data protection requirements and may be liable to both enforcement action by the Information Commissioner and claims for compensation from whoever feels they have been affected by it.”
For anyone wanting more information on the use of CCTV to film public areas, the Information Commissioner’s Office has released guidance that can be found at: https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/domestic-cctv-systems-guidance-for-people-using-cctv/