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CCTV surveillance as Anti-Social Behaviour

We are getting an increasing number of emails along these lines, from people whose neighbours are installing cheap CCTV cameras for alleged "security" purposes, without bothering to consult their neighbours, over whose property these cameras also overlook:

So where do I go next - working on this on a daily basis - have been to police, planning, CAB, Liberty too and now the ASBO team, my life is hell and nobody can help! I can finally see how law abiding citizens get themselves into big trouble and finally flip am really coming close and where I have always been of the opinion that the Police etc and authorities will see that justice is done - I am fast becoming disheartened - have even in the last 2 days sent an email to parliament. How can this be that my totally mad neighbour is allowed to train a camera at my property and I am powerless- am at wits end - any advice now? Thanks Regards,


This may be the golden opportunity for anti CCTV campaigners.

Suburbanites watching each other on CCTV will at least polarise them which in turn is likely to bring about a rise in the demand for privacy laws. I think that the best policy here would be to wind them up and watch them go. I suspect that, eventually, they will come to the conclusion that privacy laws are necessary.

As a townie, I haved a public CCTV camera at each end of my street. I keep the curtains shut and use the back door, but I should really not have to do this to protect my privacy.

On the positive side, I have just stuffed one up 'em on my van. I now have a yellow sign on the back written in numberplate letters on a yellow background. The numberplate itself is sandwitched inbetween 2 banner signs. At least it makes it difficult for the readers - H4M PER ANPR.

I think all spy camera surveillance is Anti Social Behaviour. However, you can imagine any privacy law drafted to control private spy cameras will have a myriad of exemptions. These would enable the local authorities, police and private companies to continue with their obnoxious activities unregulated. It would just be the man in the street who would be affected.

On the subject of ANPR, Jake Long's "confusing characters" is a brilliant idea. Arguably ANPR is a greater threat to privacy than spy cameras. You can really only obtain "soft information" from spy cameras - it's neigh on impossible to construct meaningful databases from the images. Not so with ANPR. These devilish devices are logging our movements with increasing accuracy and frequency. They are sprouting up like weeds all over the place, unregulated, and usually installed by the "state within a state" (ACPO) with no consultation.

There's a set on the A19 which I regularly pass. It's not too difficult to shied yourself behind a lorry in the slow lane. Then again, you could ride a motorbike - the cameras log the front numberplate. As for the set on the A1 at Boroughbridge, well it's easy for anyone so inclined to avoid them - just go up the slip road and down the other side. The ANPR cameras are on a bridge at the junction. I think this speaks volumes about police stupidity. Of all the bridges to put ANPR on, they choose one where you can effectively bypass it.

Our local chief of traffic has just been ranting on in the local paper, accusing virtually all motorists of being criminals. He states his number one priority is "denying use of the roads to criminals". What the f' does that actually mean? In his terms I suppose it means sticking ANPR cameras up like there was no tomorrow.

I feel that the Road Traffic Acts and Various road traffic regulations make a blueprint for the vision that the government has got for the future.

It is the nearest they have got to a workable model by which they can persecute, punish and fine 'their' citizens as they see fit using whatever new laws and restrictions that they decide to dream up.

Of course the key to all this is national identity cards, just as the driving licence was key to it all with drivers.

That is why above all elese, ID card legislation must be stopped.

There are 2 serious mistakes that we as citizens made within the last century: No.1 was to allow the special caveats to be created for people who own a particular machine (Motor Vehicles) and No.2 was to allow the use of public CCTV. Combine the 2 and you have total control of a large section of the country. Add to this an identity card and you have a full house: Game set and match to the government.

The nation cannot and must not sit back and allow this to happen.

Point a large CCTV camera with a red light on top at your neighbour's house and stream it to a public web page.

The issue here is whether the public have the same surviellance rights as the state.

To me that's a form of stalking and harrassment and a clear breach of privacy, but to Labour its probably the actions of a good, vigilant neighbour watching for thoughtcrime. I think the homeowner is lucky to be aware (s)he is bring spied on, because, by collecting evidence (photographing the camera and the area it is aimed at), the nosy and arrogant neighbour can be brought to justice.

This ties in vaguely with the recent case of a man being shocked at the nude sunbathing of his neighbour, and rushing off to get his video camera for "evidence":


Magistrates cleared her, but interestingly (thankfully?), many people reading the BBC site commented on the inappropriateness of the camera, rather than the nudity:


(There's a whole bunch in this case on how acceptability = normality, but maybe some other time...)

Under the Data Protection Act there are 79 pages of guidelines for installing CCTV cameras.

I took Rochdale MBC to task on this and they had to follow the guidelines , which are advisory not mandatory. (qv Mosquito noise generator to upset teenagers)

There is a strong case that CCTV breaches the legislation on harassment (stalking) but you would have to bring, at high cost, civil legislation.

If a neighbour starts, my view is just go and touch up the lens with a bit of black spray paint.

There is no objective evidence whatever that CCTV has any effect on crime reduction ... or detection. It does however provide the impression that something is being done about these ....

Take the example of the french and when you see a camera, simply return later in a balaclava and paint the camera lense black. It works wonders.

Ihave a neighbour that watches me come in and out of my property on a regular basis and the reason for this he has grown tall hedges around his property and he cannot see me no more so he sets up a camera, a little bit of good has come out of it he has freehold premises i am council tenant i complained to my landlord and they have told him to cut his hedges back to give me more daylight and he has to make sure that he dosn;t allow this to happen again they (the landlords )have made him aware they know about his camera activities, so he has taken it down. Maybe not a victory but a relief for the time being. Many thanks sandra williams

I have 4 cameras permanently recording both private conversations and movement on my land courtesy of my delightful neighbours, and what is unbelievable is that North Wales Police condone their use!
I have had to resort to civil action to hopefully end 5 years of sheer hell - including physical assaults, verbal abuse, intimidation, harassment, stalking etc etc.
My neighbours are absolutely insane, and are about to also lose the land stolen from our predecessors, as they have tried and failed to convince the Land Registry but refuse to accept this.
There is only so much anyone can be expected to take, and we have been taken well beyond what is acceptable behaviour.

a neighbour of mine has recently installed a cctv camera on his house this camera is directly on my front door, is this allowed, surely this is a intrution of my privacy, can i do anything about this, are they breaking any laws

@ Gary - since there is no Privacy law in the UK, and since CCTV cameras are virtually unregulated (apart from the Sexual Offences Act 2003 offence of Voyeurism, which requires proof of "sexual gratification"), and are unlicensed, then legally, there is not much you can do.

Even the Planning Regulations do not require planning permission for exterior CCTV camera, provided that there are no more than 4 cameras per side of building up to a total of 16 overall, and they are each smaller than the approximate size of a microwave oven - something which virtually all modern cameras easily comply with. Interior cameras which can see through windows etc do not require any planning permmission at all.

Publicly funded CCTV schemes usually require consultation with neighbours, under voluntary, not legally enforcable, Codes of Practice.

Things like the Human Rights Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act which cover directed or covert surveillance by the Police etc., only apply to "public authorities" and not to private citizens or commercial companies snooping on each other.

If you cannot get any sense from your neighbour after talking politely with him, then you might just be able to persuade your local council to think about issuing an Anti-Social Behavior Order.

You would probably need the support of several of your neighbours, So far, no such ASBOs have ever been issued.

my car, while parket in front of my house got scratched twice, so i have installed a CCTV camera which point to my parket car.My neighbours(we share the same path to our houses) called the police (because they feel watched coming in and out)and the police came to my house and ask to see the view of my camera, they then told me i can only view my own property not the street in front of my house (where my car is parked)is that right ???

@ Frank - There is no law preventing you from snooping on the public street.

However, why did you not first consult your neighbours before installing the camera ?

Are you, in effect, accusing them of scratching your car ?

Myself and a number of neighbours have had a lot of damage done to our cars over the last 12 months. I decided enough was enough & put up a cctv camera to record what was happening to my own car. The camera faces onto the street and appears to point at neighbouring houses (but doesn't). I don't care if it's illegal - if I have to break the law to catch somebody damaging my property then so be it - it's not as if the Police are doing much to catch the idiot causing the damage.

I'm not prepared to just put up with it or chalk it down to 'one of those things', move house or have to move my car. Technically I shouldn't even have the _need_ to put up a camera in the first place.

There's obviously a fine line between the need for privacy and people's own need to feel safe. My cameras aren't **spying** on anybody. I couldn't care less what my neighbours get up to if it doesn't affect me. All I'm interested in is catching a vandal / burglar in the act. So not much will happen to them even if they're convicted, but that's a rant for another time.

The really annoying thing is that I've reported the crime every time it's happened in the past, thinking I was doing a good thing but I've since learned it gets recorded officially and will probably affect my insurance premium in the long term. Nice, now remind me why law abiding folks should even bother..

J - I completely agree with you. I too am having problem wit ha particular vandal singling out my car and continuosly vandalising it within days after getting the damage to the torn-off wing mirrors repaired.

I'm also looking for a monitoring solution. I was wondering if anybody knew of a system that I could install directly inside the car that would be motion activated and record the vandal in the act. GeniusGuard from singapore seems to be reasonable, but I think has a hefty price tag. Any ideas?

We have been advised by the local council that:
can advise that CCTV cameras fall to be permitted development under part 33 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995 if they are to be used for security purposes.

However, as ever, this is subject to certain criteria. These are:

a) the building cannot be a listed building.
b) the dimensions of the camera, including its housing, cannot exceed 75cm x 25cm x 25cm.
c) any part of the camera, when installed, cannot be less than 250cm above ground level.
d) any part of the camera, when installed, cannot protrude by more than 1 metre when measured from the surface of the building.
e) any part of the camera, when installed, cannot be in contact with the surface of the building at a point at a point which is more than 1 metre from any other point of contact.
f) any part of the camera cannot be less than 10 metres from any part of another camera installed on a building.
g) the development cannot result in the presence of more than 4 cameras on the same side of the building.
h) the development cannot result in the presence of more than 16 cameras on the building.

Should any of these criteria not be met, a planning application would be required.

As two cameras are within 10mtrs of each other as both are on corners of the building we have had their positioning made a planning condition and they now want to view the images. This seems at variance to an answer you gave to Gary.

Please could you advise?

@ Josie - all these planning regulations are about is the visual impact of the cameras, and not, unfortunately, anything to do with their privacy implications.

Why do you want two cameras within the arbitrary 10 metres of each other ? Is the building so small ? If you moved one of them higher than the other, would the diagonal distance exceed 10 metres ?

As you can see, the regulations, such as they are, were never envisaged to be used for domestic buildings.

There is little chance that any modern CCTV camera is large enough to exceed the physical dimensions, or would require a mounting bracket which makes the camera protrude a metre from the wall - that is what compact Pan . Tilt. Zoom "deathstar" domes are for.

What is so wrong about having to submit to a planning application ?

Today on Radio Four (Word of Mouth) it was suggested that a new word
"snoopervision" should be coined to cover the CCTV plague......also "snoopervisors" for the folk claimed to be in charge.

This seems entirely ripe for adoption. Not least because it seems to cover most of the topics hereabouts. I wonder how much effort it would take (collectively) to get it in the next edition of the O.E.D?


My neighbour has for months now been taking pictures of our property and me if I happen to be in it at the time cutting up the timber I am burning on our wood burner, he seems to think its his right to dictate what goes on my property.

In the past he has reported me to building control and for excessive noise radio4, Chopping & sawing wood needless to say the council sent me one letter which I have replied to a year ago.

Is there anything I can do about it or should I start doing the same back??

My brand new Mistubishi Warrior has been getting scratched outside my flat....and i am absolutly steeming mad about it!!!!..however, stoke of luck yesterday, i was dropping some stuff off at the flat and all in all i was about a min or so till i got back to the car, i saw this woman...a really weird nutty looking wild eyed woman kinda stumbling between my car and the binhouse and i though nooooooo....it cant be.....i rushed round the other side and OH MY GOD...another dirty big keying down the driver door...i couldnt beleive it...i turned and she went in to the block of flats across the road from mine..and she was gone..she knows i saw her..im not getting the police involved yet..my word against hers...im gonna deal with it my way...i think ive sussed what its all about..the space is comunal, but her husband likes to park has massive work van in the spot and if anyone parks there they get scratched....well tomorrow morning im going to catch the guy going out to work and im gonna loose it on him...and probably beat him up...ill keep you posted...i also bought a ford escort for 80 pounds today and im gonna put it in the spot and leave it for good..and wen the tax runs out ill tax it again...hahahah...fu..ers...Danny Glasgow

my neighbour has set up a camera to watch my coming and goiing with the dog .. know this as when his daughter was asked why they had a cctv she said it was to watch me ..is what he is doing legal?

they probably scratched your car with that reaction, if they want privacy then they cant expect it in public ie outside, so long as it isnt looking inside their house and theyre not doing anything wrong i cant see why they are bothered

my neighbour came to see me today to ask about my camara/ she said we could be watching her grandchildren' my camera ponts down at my drive does not over look any one eleses. i had the camara as im starting childminding its so i can see whos at my door as my house has 3floors so i dont have to leave kid alone to open the door.she said she would call the police does she have a leg to stand on .

i have installed a hidden camera in my home. i live alone but get the awful feeling that someone is getting acces to my home when i go out! i know it sounds paranoid but i'm at the stage of thinking about moving house. i haven't 'caught' anyone on video yet. i also sence that my mobile phone is being tracked because it interferes with my raio in my car when the phone is on standby. it is as though it is transmitting a signal thus tracking my journey. needless to say my ex wife was not happy that i got the house (long story) when divorced and she just can't let go so maybe something to do with her. she has very influencial friends in this area, lawyers, judges social work, police, DWP,you name it. my point, is it possible for local people to invade privacy with the help of clandestine operations of local groups acting illegally. am attending my doctor for shattered nerves! am i being paranoid or is this a sign of the times.

@ william - mobile phones periodically, say every 5 to 10 minutes, have to make a handshake with the strongest signal from the nearby mobile phone cell transmitters, in preparation for when you want to make a or receive a call or SMS text messsage.

If you put your phone near to the loudspeakers of your stereo or even your computer, you will hear the characteristic handshake noises. You can often hear them from the speakers before the phone itself actually rings.

So in that sense there is nothing to worry abot, however, as of 1st October 2007, all mobile phone Communications Traffic Data is being retained by the networks, even if your phone is not under special investigation by the authorities. This data includes your phone's (and therefore to a high degree of probability your actual) approximate location.

This law affects all 450 million innocent European Union citizens, Everyone should be worried about potential abuses of such massive databases.

It is possible for private people to abiuse other private people's privacy, since there is no actual Privacy statute law in the UK, and things like the Human Rights Act / European Convention on Human Rights Article 8, do not apply to private citizens or companies snooping on each other.

However, as with all of these things, getting evidence and then finding someone to complain about snooping to, and then to get some effective action taken, is very hard.

I live in a row of terraced cottages and as Mine is the end house, my neighbours have acces through my gate, no problem.

The house immediately next to mine has installed a camera that watches this access point over my garden. It does not look down at his front door at all. This is triggered by motion sensor so in effect they watch everyone who comes in and out no matter which house they are visiting, and see us all the time we are out in our garden.

Is this legal?? i dont like being watched coming and going into my own gate and why does he need to see? Surely he should only be interested in who's at his door?

The fact that he keeps two pit bulls and has numerous visitors at all hours, all who seem to only knock then walk away after a few seconds may point to the answer!!!!!

Is there anything I can do??????

i have bought a miniture video recorder and button hole camera and will record up to 5 hours at a time whilst traveling around london and going to the shops.

i live in such an anti social place in london i will make a film out of it all.

if some cheeky **** give me any cheek or i witness a crime i will think about whether i shall post a video of the said crime or cheekyness to the relavent authorities.

what do you think of that.

@ china - have a look at Professor Steve Mann's wearable computer / camera stuff and Sousveillance

Have fun.

However, be careful about passing "sensitive" Government buildings etc. - if you are stopped by the Metropolitan Police or by British Transport Police and searched under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, they may well arrest you under Section 58 Collection of information (up to 10 yars in prison) or Section 57 Possession for terrorist purposes (15 years in prison). Just being arrested will be a heavy punishment, even if they never charge you, you will be DNA sampled, fingerprinted etc..(not deleted from the intelligence databases until your 100th birthday).

Any arrest under the Terrorism Act, even if you are never charged, will dog you internationally for the rest of your life, and will also affect your family and friends.

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