Government tries again to control CCTV surveillance

Surveillance camera owners may face tough restrictions on their use following the launch of a government consultation a new code of practice...

Surveillance camera owners may face tough restrictions on their use following the launch of a government consultation on a new code of practice governing the use of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems.

Crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said the consultation was a first step towards establishing a formal code of practice as promised in the government's protection of freedoms bill.

Critics, including the Information Commissioner, have spoken out against the use of cameras and other surveillance equipment, claiming it was open to abuse and a disproportionate invasion of individuals' privacy.

The ICO issued a consultation in January 2008 on exactly the same subject. The new consultation fulfils a pre-election promise by the Tories to reverse the "Big Brother State".

The new proposals include a formal check on whether new cameras are absolutely necessary, standards to ensure data is usable in investigations, greater public awareness, and data retention periods.

Brokenshire said the code could be extended to businesses and private security firms after it had been adopted by local government and police.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks.

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