Body cameras for security officers have become increasingly prevalent in the UK, providing enhanced safety, accountability, and evidence collection. However, the use of body cameras by security officers is subject to specific laws and regulations that differ from those governing the police. In this article, we will delve into the legal framework surrounding body cameras for security officers in the UK, highlighting the distinctions between police and security company rules. While there is no specific regulation regarding the use of security body cameras yet (as of May 2023), the laws governing recording footage and the retention of data are applicable.
Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR)
The Data Protection Act 2018, commonly called GDPR, is the law forms the foundation for the processing of personal data in the UK, including data captured by body cameras. Security officers must comply with this legislation, ensuring that the principles of data protection, such as fairness, transparency, and security, are upheld. Adhering to data protection regulations is vital for security companies to safeguard privacy rights and maintain ethical standards. In practice this means that every effort must be maintained to keep the footage safe. This has been interpreted to mean that all footage should be encrypted on the camera and while it is stored. Models such as The Partner MK4 and the The Pinnacle PR7 have this functionality.
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Guidelines
The ICO provides comprehensive guidelines on the use of CCTV, which are largely considered to extend to body cameras for security officers. These guidelines offer practical advice on handling and storing recorded data, obtaining consent, conducting Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs), and addressing privacy concerns. Security companies should adhere to these guidelines to ensure compliance and responsible use of body cameras. You can find more information regarding these guidelines here.
Rules of When You Can Record
Security officers using body cameras must obtain consent when recording individuals in private spaces or sensitive areas. In a public places, consent is implied and as long as and the subject is aware that they are being recorded, you are legally allowed to film. Many security body cameras will be clearly labelled with audio/video recording labels while others will not. Some models will have a stealth mode, such as The Partner Body Cameras, but secret recordings are governed by their own laws and regulations in the UK.
Distinctions from Police Use
While there are similarities between police and security officer body camera use, some key distinctions exist. Law enforcement agencies in the UK, including police forces, have specific regulations governing the use of body cameras. The deployment of body cameras by police officers is primarily governed by the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice and relevant legislation, such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. These regulations emphasize the importance of maintaining evidential integrity, respecting privacy, and ensuring proper use of the recorded data.
Policy Development and Training
Security companies should establish clear policies and procedures regarding body camera use, tailored to their specific operational needs. These policies should address aspects such as data retention periods, access restrictions, training requirements, and accountability mechanisms. Regular training programs are essential to ensure security officers understand their responsibilities, the legal framework, and best practices for body camera use. Some security body camera software have built in mechanisms to facilitate this such as The Partner DEMS which includes automatic retention periods, an audit log and permission level access control. However some systems like the Shellfilm H-Eye and S-Eye, or the Elog range, have a more bare bones approach to their software nand require the user to manage these elements themselves.
Compliance and Auditing
Security companies should conduct regular audits to ensure compliance with data protection laws and internal policies. These audits can verify proper data handling, adherence to consent requirements, and compliance with the principles of fairness, transparency, and security. Auditing helps security companies identify areas for improvement and maintain high standards of ethical conduct with regards to the use of body cameras for security officers.
Security officers in the UK must navigate a legal framework that governs the use of security body cameras to protect privacy rights and ensure responsible data handling. While security companies do not have specific legislation like the police, compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR) and ICO guidelines is crucial. Distinctions exist between police and security officer rules, with security companies having greater flexibility in policy development. By adhering to legal requirements, respecting privacy, and implementing robust policies and training programs, security companies can harness the benefits of body cameras while maintaining professionalism and ethical conduct.
Please note: Laws and regulations may evolve over time. It is crucial to consult official government sources, legal professionals, or relevant authorities for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the laws and regulations surrounding body cameras for security officers in the UK.