Fear over blanket CCTV at pubs

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cctv, Licensing authority, Data protection

CCTV: serious concerns over blanket policies at pubs
CCTV: serious concerns over blanket policies at pubs
The UK's privacy watchdog fears police moves to force all pubs to install CCTV risk data protection and privacy breaches.

The UK's privacy watchdog has expressed "serious concerns" about blanket policies requiring pubs to fit CCTV.

The call from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) follows reports of police in parts of the country, including Islington and Richmond in London, objecting to licence applications where venues don't agree to use fit CCTV.

Licensees are reportedly made to handover footage from the cameras, raising concerns over data protection and privacy for the ICO.

An ICO spokesman said: "Hardwiring surveillance into the UK's pubs raises serious privacy concerns.

"We recognise that CCTV plays an important role in the prevention and detection of crime, and can help to reduce crime in areas of high population density, such as city boroughs.

"However we are concerned at the prospect of landlords being forced into installing CCTV in pubs as a matter of routine in order to meet the terms of a licence.

"The use of CCTV must be reasonable and proportionate if we are to maintain public trust and confidence in its deployment. Installing surveillance in pubs to combat specific problems of rowdiness and bad behaviour may be lawful, but hardwiring in blanket measures where there is no history of criminal activity is likely to breach data protection requirements.

"We will be contacting the police and others involved to establish the facts and discuss the situation in Islington."

A spokeswoman for Islington Police said the Metropolitan Police does not have a policy of insisting CCTV within pubs before supporting licence applications.

"However, individual boroughs may impose blanket rules in support of their objectives to prevent crime and disorder and to assist the investigation of offences when they do occur.

"Islington is one of the most densely populated districts for licensed premises in London and the borough's licensing authority is committed to providing a safe environment in which to socialise.

"To this end, Islington police recommend all premises are required to install CCTV and make those images available to police upon request before a licence is granted.

"However, final decisions on the licensing of premises rest with the licensing authority to which the [Met] is one of a number of organisations whose views are considered. The licensing authority looks at each case on their merits at committee.

"The licensing authority works closely with pubs and clubs in the area and would urge anyone with concerns to contact them."

- Are you a licensee with strong views on being forced to fit CCTV? Call John Harrington on 01293 610481 or email john.harrington@william-reed.co.uk

Related topics: Legislation

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