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So would you like to play "Spot the CCTV Camera?". Eagle eyed visitors may recognise the profusion of street furniture, surrounding a single heritage dome camera keeping watch over part  of Londons' prestigious Oxford Street shopping area.


Caught on Camera, but no use in court?
The 'unlawful' use of Closed Circuit TV

An exclusive report by Doktor Jon

Dateline November 05th 2004 - London, England.

With reports of around 4.2 million Closed Circuit Television cameras in use, and the UK now widely regarded as the CCTV capital of the world, just recently serious doubts have emerged over the legality of many of the nations privately operated security cameras.

With increasing emphasis being placed on the use of CCTV evidence, it now appears likely that crucial video recordings from thousands of surveillance cameras, may actually be inadmissible in a court of law.

In an exclusive investigation, Doktor Jon can reveal that for almost a decade, CCTV suppliers have been unwittingly installing cameras, without first obtaining the necessary planning permission.

Under existing UK law, anyone can install a surveillance camera on the outside of a building, provided it complies with what is known in planning circles as ‘permitted development’.

Under Schedule 2 Part 33 of the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 detailed guidelines are laid down for what is acceptable under the legislation.

In practice, this means that the size, location and number of cameras is carefully controlled to minimise the visual impact on a property.

According to a spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), “If any of the criteria in Schedule 2 Part 33 is not met, the development would be unlawful,...”. Another spokesperson went on to say “... all buildings must comply with the regulations, regardless of whether they are privately or publicly owned”.

Given the extent of the problem in London alone, Doktor Jon decided to investigate further, to find out precisely what information Local Authority planning officers provide, when it comes to installing security cameras.

In an e-mail sent out to 33 of the capitals planning authorities, advice was sought on two specific examples of what is generally accepted as 'common practice' amongst CCTV installers.


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