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CCTV and those Neighbours from Hell (NFH)


Over the last year or so, one issue which has come up more often than most others, is the now increasingly widespread use of CCTV cameras by a homeowner, to spy on and harass their neighbours.

What may on the face of it appear to be a somewhat unimportant manifestation of modern living, does unfortunately have a significant impact on the quality of life experienced by the victim of a Neighbour from Hell (NFH).

As it stands, existing legislation does not offer much in the way of protection from 'passive' harassment, although there are three specific Acts which should be mentioned in this context.

First off, the Data Protection Act is widely believed (albeit mistakenly) to regulate the use of CCTV in the U.K., but where a NFH is deliberately using cameras to threaten their victims, this piece of legislation is actually no use at all. Whilst most (but not all) commercial camera installations are expected to comply with the requirements of the act, the domestic use of video surveillance is specifically exempt.
As such, irrespective of the severity of the misuse of this type of technology, the Office of the Information Commissioner would be unable to take any specific action, but would rather refer the matter back to the local constabulary for attention under alternative legislation.

There are specific rules relating to the placement of CCTV cameras on any building, and this "Permitted Development" legislation can be applied by a Local Authorities Planning Department, to control the way in which equipment is installed. Unfortunately in the real world, if a homeowner is compelled to remove or relocate an individual camera, they will almost certainly comply, but not necessarily avoid continuing with the harassment of their neighbour victim by replacing the offending unit in a compliant location.

If it can be shown that a camera has been deliberately installed to provide a harassment; in other words, there are alternative locations for installing which would perhaps be better suited to the stated requirement (e.g. "I need to keep an eye on my car 'cos it keeps gettin' vandal eyesed " ), then it may be worth citing the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Used appropriately and sensibly, domestic CCTV can provide a useful tool for both crime reduction and detection, but unfortunately, when used maliciously, it's effects can be extremely unpleasant for the victims. For any homeowner that believes they are being targetted by CCTV, Doktor Jon is prepared to receive JPEG images of the offending cameras as part of the 'Helpdesk' service. Upon review, a "Statement of Opinion" can be returned by e-mail, which will hopefully provide a useful independent interpretation about the specific situation.

E-mails can be sent to:- helpdesk[at]doktorjon.co.uk

Problems with hand held speed cameras >>

Live Life Safe, with advice and guidance on personal safety from The Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

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