CCTV and Audio Recording

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There are some instances where recording audio via CCTV is invaluable, and the protection of public safety and workers outweighs the risks to personal privacy. Examples include: Bus or cab drivers where a panic button activates recording, or workplaces where audio is crucial to safety and all staff are aware of this recording.

In other premises, it’s all about considering the impact and how you will remain compliant with GDPR and the Data Protection Act. Audio CCTV is often found in places such as call centres as a training tool. However, employees must know they are being recorded, why they are, who has access to the footage, and their rights if they want to reassess the processing of their data.

Key points include:

  • It is illegal to record anybody without telling them. You cannot record workplace conversations without ensuring all individuals on site are aware of the recording, when it is active, and why it is in place.
  • Sound quality relies on having excellent quality CCTV systems, and therefore a low-cost audio CCTV installation may have patchy quality and be impacted by interference and background noise.
  • Audio CCTV is more expensive than image-only CCTV and isn’t a standard product. Most CCTV cameras are manufactured without microphone attachments, so a specific camera would need to be installed.

What are the Rules Around Recording Audio CCTV in the UK?

Audio recording is considered far more privacy intrusive than image captures alone. Therefore, you are strongly advised to work through the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance to ensure your processes and policies are up to date and followed comprehensively to ensure you remain legally compliant.

Rules include:

  • You cannot record conversations between members of the public. Audio CCTV must have a justifiable purpose, and that cannot be surveillance of private individuals.
  • The only exceptions to this are panic buttons in taxis or police custody rooms.
    • Workplace audio recordings are only permitted if you have a clear reason for the surveillance, and this reason is quantified by who views the footage, when, why, and how access permissions are managed.

Any person in a workplace with audio recording must be aware that both video and sound are being captured.

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