CCTV Applications I Hadn't Thought Of...

Having recently written a white paper on IP Surveillance systems for D-Link, of the many applications I described within, none were related to that which has led to my morning cuppa being rudely interrupted; namely by footage on BBC Breakfast TV of a neighbourly dispute in Lincolnshire whereby three neighbours had installed CCTV cameras focused on another neghbour’s house and garden to prove what dodgy neighbours they were.

The dodgy neighbours apparently are indeed a bit “dodgy” but playing up to the cameras in this instance is inevitable, such as their claimed simulated sex; she certainly had a very large bra… And the best bit – the name of the village this is all taking place in: “Wrangle”.

And this isn’t a one-off situation – quote from another public dispute: “My opposite neighbour is making our life hell. He has 5, yes 5 CCTV cameras at the back of his house and 2 at the front.”

Of course, there are two problems here. One – The Data Protection Act, which covers the use of CCTV cameras in commercial situations, doesn’t apply to domestic use, so the only laws which apply are those which normally relate to still and video photography: Two – CCTV technology AKA IP Surveillance – is now incredible cheap and connects straight into your domestic WiFi.

What I love about this stuff is that, whatever the IT vendors come up with as the raison(s) d’etre for their technologies, the person in the street comes up with far more personal applications to drive the market with. Remember – the only reason we had CD and now DVD drives in our PCs/laptops is because this revolution started with home computers when the office was still using Frisbee Net technology – or real networks of course…

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Hi Steve, You are of course absolutely correct that residential use of CCTV is exempt from the Data Protection Act, and yet the point that the news report failed to mention, is that targeting neighbours with surveillance cameras would almost certainly be subject to possible action under the "Protection from Harassment" legislation. Where this story provides a very good example of less than 'best practice', if the 'victims' had installed their cameras covertly to gather evidence, that would have made sure that they didn't in the process render themselves liable to any claims of harassment, or indeed displace any incidents to areas outside of those covered by the cameras ... or to put it another way, there could not be a justifiable complaint against the use of CCTV, if the target of the surveillance was unaware of it's presence. This situation is now extremely common, and I've totally loss count of how many people have contacted me under similar circumstances. Jon CCTV Advisor
Cameras pointed at your own premises is fine. Cameras pointed at your boundaries is fine. Cameras pointing to any public place is also fine. Cameras pointing across any property to view the open road for the purpose of crime prevention or detection is also fine. If yopur cameras overlook a neighbours property in order to do so that then thats also fine. If they are used for crime prevention or detection then you will have no problem. So stick to that simple argument. Your arguement will be aided if criminal damage and anti social behaviour is a problem in your area. If cameras reduce this then they are effective. If you actually catch someone then your cameras will be more than justified. Cameras used in areas where there is antisocial behaviour and criminal activity are also a proportionate response of any community minded person or of any person who has been a victim of the above. Basically its your reasons for installing CCTV that can be questioned. Crime prevention and detection is always permisable in domestic CCTV. If you distribute CCTV footage without due cause then you are probably harassing someone. The presence of CCTV in itself is not harasment however much you dont like it. Its all down to how it is used. The type of equipment is almost irrelevant. If you use a PTZ type camera and go zooming in and following people around without reason then your actions may be seen to be harassment. If you want a PTZ then use a fully automatic, movement tracking camera. That way its only the dumb logic of the camera (and not you) that follows people. (and trees in the wind). You need not display any warning signs. You can also install microphones. (and its a good idea to do so as any crime with audio is 500% more impresive if caught). I would advise you to use "covert" cameras wherever possible and have no signs. Detection and jail is a far more effective treatment for criminals. Using "overt" cameras will just push the criminals on to other neighbours. Its much better to catch a criminal than it is to pursade him to burgle someone easier. Its mainly people with something to hide dont like to be recorded. And they will try to claim that they want privacy to comit crime. Also, human rights act does not apply to individuals, one individual cannot breach anothers human rights. The human rights act applies to governments and similar organisations, police, councils etc. NOT to private individual people.
Pete, You somehow miss the point of personal privacy and and individual's human rights. I have a neighbour who has 4 cctv cameras pointing across my front garden to front door (instead of pointing directly from THEIR door to the street)- thereby watching my coming/going or watering my plants outside MY window. There is ABSOLUTELY no reason to point their camera across MY property. It infringes on my personal liberty and is harrassement! The second camera points onto shared back garden, which I don't use for this reason! This deprives me of use of SHARED facilities. The last 2 cameras are situated over the side of the building where we place our recycling/bins, and small room that houses our electric/gas meters. These face opposite directions; facing the street and facing the back where there are two garages, one SHOULD be mine, but they've hijacked BOTH! I have nothing to hide- do not have wild parties, hardly get visitors, nor do I engage in any criminal activities. The neighbourhood is very quiet with NO antisocial behaviour problems, a VERY LOVELY area to live! Why then have SO much surveillance, if not for vouyerism? I actually caught the wife staring at me from the back garden through my lace curtains, as I was changing after a shower! She had the barefaced CHEEK to WAVE at me......whilst I was naked! Now if THAT is not sick, then YOU tell me what it is????
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