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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
Data protection worries over CCTV
CCTV cameras
There are millions of CCTV cameras throughout the UK
A new organisation set up to highlight concerns over the legality of CCTV cameras across the UK has been launched in Edinburgh.

CameraWatch said that up to 90% of the UK's 4.2 million cameras were in breach of the Data Protection Act.

The body said that such breaches could undermine CCTV evidence in court.

However, that claim was questioned by the Information Commissioner's Office, which stressed that a code of practice for CCTV use has been issued.

Current law states that CCTV should be appropriately sited with clear signage.

Operators must also ensure images are securely stored if they are to be used as evidence in court.

Not compliant

Recently appointed Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was invited to attend the group's launch in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Group chairman and former police officer Gordon Ferrie said more must be done to ensure cameras are operated properly and in accordance with the law.

He said: "Somewhere in the region of 90% of all cameras and camera systems operating out there are simply not compliant.

In an ideal world every system would be compliant with the Data Protection Act but unfortunately we do not have control over that
John Neilson

"We are in favour of close circuit television. It's as good as having DNA. There is nothing better than actually seeing someone commit the crime.

"All we are asking is that the images that are taken are compliant with the Data Protection Act."

Senior police officers in England have already expressed similar fears over the issue, although the matter has yet to be tested in a UK court.

Ideal world

Assistant Chief Constable John Neilson, of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos), said the matter of CCTV Data Protection compliance was one for the courts.

He said: "In an ideal world every system would be compliant with the Data Protection Act but unfortunately we do not have control over that.

"It is up to the court to decide whether it's appropriate that the evidence is protected and if it's not compliant with the Data Protection Act."

Ken Macdonald, Assistant Information Commissioner for Scotland, said: "We welcome the initiative by CameraWatch to promote compliance with the Data Protection Act.

"We are not aware of any evidence that supports the suggestion that 90% of CCTV cameras are not complying with the ICO Code of Practice. We don't believe there is any such evidence.

"Where we receive complaints that CCTV is being used in breach of the Data Protection Act we will investigate. We have a range of enforcement powers at our disposal."

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