In an incident in a pub where a customer died after being punched, CCTV footage was used to secure a conviction for manslaughter. The jury was assisted in reaching a decision having seen the footage which showed that the defendant had punched the man in an act of violence, not in self-defence, as his defence had alleged.

Appropriate use of CCTV in pubs can be beneficial to the local community – but when it is appropriate to install CCTV in your licensed premises?

CCTV licence requirement

A few years ago it had become very common for licensing authorities to require licensees to install CCTV as a condition of the grant or renewal of a premises licence. However, the Government acted to end the blanket use of surveillance in pubs by introducing the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.

The purpose of the Code is to ensure that the public have confidence that surveillance cameras are there to protect them and not to spy on them. It specifically refers to the imposition of a licensing condition requiring installation of CCTV which should only be imposed if it is “for a specified purpose which is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need.”

It is unlikely, therefore, that a trouble-free community pub would present a pressing need that would justify imposing a condition requiring the installation of CCTV.

Responsibilities for operating CCTV

If you do operate an individual TV system, whilst you are not bound to adopt the Code and its 12 Guiding Principles, are encouraged to do so.

The Surveillance Camera Code of Practice can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/204775/Surveillance_Camera_Code_of_Practice_WEB.pdf

However, if you decide to install, or are required to install CCTV, there are various ongoing responsibilities that you need to be aware of:

Registration

When you install a CCTV system you must register with the Information Commissioner and name the “data controller” – this should be whoever controls the images captured by CCTV and who has authority to disclose them. There may be more than one data controller – for example, it could be both tenant and pubco if responsibility is shared.

You will need to pay an annual registration fee, currently £35. As one Lancashire bar owner reportedly found out to his cost last year, there is a fine and risk of criminal conviction if this is not done.

Signage

You are required by law to notify the public that CCTV is in operation on your premises. This is usually done by displaying notices.

Policy on handling data

It is important that you have a written internal policy that covers how CCTV images are to be stored and how requests for disclosure of images are to be dealt with. This is a good basis for training individuals involved with the process.  It is also important to be able to demonstrate to the Information Commissioner that you take your data protection responsibilities seriously in case of a complaint being made about how you stored or used personal data.

Disclosure of information

The Data Protection Act 1998 sets out the circumstances in which CCTV footage can be disclosed to a third party. In essence, images can be provided to the police if they are necessary for investigating or preventing a crime or for apprehending or prosecuting an offender.

NOTE: It is these requirements that you must comply with rather than any general stipulation in your licence that you must provide images to the police “on request.”