When we are commissioned to install CCTV for a client we sit down with the client and discuss what they are looking for in terms of the coverage and detail that they expect from the CCTV system that we will install for them. This is a very important aspect of CCTV design and provides us with the baseline from which we can set about choosing the specific cameras that we need to satisfy the clients requirements. We never simply buy off the shelf kits and hope for the best. Each design is bespoke and the products that are selected are carefully matched to meet the brief and reliable performance and inter-operation. Sometimes clients are asked by neighbours (and the police) who have suffered a break-in or damage to their possessions or property outside of their homes, if the installed CCTV has any footage of the crime! This has happened to me only this week, as a near neighbour had their van broken into and all of their work tools stolen! A major expense and disruption to their business was the result. Invariably the answer to these types of enquiry is no, although there may be the odd exception to this. There are several reasons why this is the case, which I will explain.
The first is quite simply common decency, entitlement to privacy. It is not good practise to point cameras and record images of activities in adjacent properties, and I fact we would refuse to do so, unless there is very strong justification to do so. Inevitably there is a degree of overspill if you are trying to capture boundaries, but this must be minimised. Public areas such as roads and paths that lead to the property can be captured. If you look at the images from my own system you will see that we are very careful to avoid prying into neighbours homes and boundaries. The door camera (top right image) does include a section of my neighbours home as this could not be avoided, but it is unlikely to breach privacy rules. In such cases it is also possible that we can mask out specific areas of an image if it is likely to contain anything that might be construed as a breach of privacy, so it is not visible on the system or prevents it being recorded.
The second consideration is compliance with the Data Protection Act. Technically this currently only applies to commercial premises and public area systems, where members of the public, and this includes employees of the business, fall within the capture of the cameras field of view. All such systems have to registered with the Information Commissioners Office, and the system must comply to the guidelines. CCTV systems installed in residential premises used for the purposes of protecting the property and possessions do not need to registered, at this time. This may change if there are criminal actions brought against residential home owners whose systems flout the principles of the act.
When home owners decide to invest in professional CCTV, they are usually doing so to protect their own home or business premises, their family or employees and their possessions or business interests. So when we set the system up, we want to maximise the level of coverage for the buyer not any incidental benefit to adjacent properties.
If you want to protect your home or business, buy your own CCTV to get the coverage that you want!