Closed Circuit Television

Police Scotland are committed to the prevention and detection of crime and consider all measures that have the potential to assist in this commitment.

The provision and use of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems are one possible solution to crime prevention although it should be considered as the last line of defence. Issues such as lighting, sightlines, building design and security practices and procedures are equally important and are likely to be less costly considerations.

The provision and use of CCTV fits well within the overall framework of crime management and can meet public expectations of Community Safety. Consequently, Police Scotland support the introduction and use of CCTV in appropriate circumstances.

When consideration is being given to the introduction of a CCTV system to a public place then the Force would seek to be represented at each stage of the process, from determining the need to establishment in the community. Once installed, the Force would seek to maintain a close liaison, offering consultation and advice on matters associated with the system.

Determining the need for CCTV

An essential element of the process of considering any public space CCTV system is that the public are consulted at every stage.

Working Groups should be established which are broadly representative of the community to examine all aspects of their introduction.

It is essential that a survey of the area is undertaken to identify the key factors affecting crime.

At this stage it is important to consider all available measures that could have a positive effect on the level of crime and in doing so increase the public feel- safe factor in the area. It may be that other less expensive crime prevention measures could be just as effective, depending on the circumstances.

It is also true to say that CCTV can only be effective if it is used in conjunction with other crime prevention measures. All CCTV systems are only as good as the reaction to what is seen on the screen.

Establishing a System

The development of an Operational Requirement Statement is essential; this document is unique to each system and will be used for the design, performance specification and functionality of the system.

The Operational Requirement is a statement of problems, not solutions, and highlights the areas to be covered by the system and the times and description of the activities giving cause for concern.

At this stage it is also very important to decide what standard of image is required. This is very much dictated by the use the system will be put to, whether it is intended to monitor, detect, recognise or identify any offender.

Legal Issues

Under Data Protection legislation CCTV installations may require to be registered with the Information Commissioner, formerly the Data Protection Registrar.

The Information Commissioner has provided guidelines as a Code of Practice that are available on the Commissioners Website at

These guidelines are lengthy and place a number of duties on the operators of such systems, however they do not apply to security equipment (including cameras) installed in homes by individuals for home security purposes

Code of Practice

A Code of Practice should be developed stating clearly the purpose of the system, taking full account of an individuals right to privacy. Important issues such as the use of CCTV System, signage, the designated person, access to monitoring equipment, storage of video recordings, tape management (if applicable), retention period, access to recorded information, copying of video recordings, removal and re-use of tapes, destruction of tapes and release of information must be included in this document.

If a digital system is installed, provision must be made to allow downloading of images to normal videotape that can be used for evidential purposes at Court.

These and many other aspects must be carefully considered prior to instalment of a CCTV system covering public places within this Force area.

The purpose of Police Scotland is to prevent crime, keep the peace, protect and reassure the community, uphold the law firmly and fairly and to pursue and identify those who break the law. The provision and use of CCTV systems can assist us greatly in achieving our purpose.


Q Do I need to register a home CCTV system with the Police or Information Commissioner?

A No, the Information Commissioner has indicated that systems installed for home security purposes are not required to be registered. You do not need to register your system with the police, but we will note you have one if you wish.

Q Do I need to display warning signs if I have a home security CCTV system?

A Signs are not mandatory for home security CCTV systems, but they are recommended as a deterrent.

Q What am I allowed to point the cameras at?

A Anything within your own property, including your car on the road outside. You should not show neighbours property, where possible.

For further information contact the Force CCTV Liaison Officer on 0131-311-3628 or by e-mail at

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