What are the body camera laws in the UK?

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The prevalence of body cameras among security officers, police and members of the public in the UK has surged, offering improved safety, accountability, and evidence collection. However, this technological advancement comes with specific legal considerations.

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Are personal body cameras legal in the UK?

Yes, it is fully legal for to own a personal body camera in
the UK. There are no laws prohibiting civilians owning or using body worn
cameras generally but as they are recording devices and used in data
collection, their use is governed by the relevant laws for such devices.

What will be of more importance is how and where you use your body camera as this will determine what laws or regulations may come into play. Of particular relevance will be if it is used in a private place or where there is an expectation of privacy.

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

What specific laws apply to the use of body cameras in the UK?

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

Interestingly, there isn’t actually any specific legislation that deals with body cameras in Britain or the United Kingdom. This is true of both civilian and personal body camera usage as well as police and security.

There are however several laws regarding filming/data collection in general that cover the use of body cameras. These apply to companies more than individual citizens.

Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR):

The Data Protection Act 2018, known as GDPR, forms the cornerstone for processing personal data, including footage captured by security body cameras. This law largely relates to recordings made in private areas.

To safeguard privacy rights and uphold ethical standards, body camera users must ensure  data protection principles like fairness, transparency, and security are observed. This means that data must not only be made available upon request by the subject of the recording but that the footage is kept safe at all times. This is generally accepted to mean encrypted at the point of recording and stored while encrypted. There are several body worn cameras that have this function such as The Partner MK4. 

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Guidelines:

The ICO provides comprehensive guidelines for CCTV use, which generally extend to body camera users. Adhering to these guidelines is vital for companies as they offer practical advice on handling and storing recorded data, obtaining consent, conducting Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs), and addressing privacy concerns. Companies can ensure responsible body camera use by adhering to these guidelines, promoting compliance and accountability.

Can I wear a bodycam in public?

There is no reason that a civilian body camera user cannot wear their device in public. In the UK, it is not illegal to record in public.
You do not need consent from someone to record as long as you are both in a public place.

It is very important to be clear on what constitutes a public place however. Restaurants, shopping centres and others are actually privately owned meaning that you do need consent from someone to film. The test would be whether or not there is an expectation of privacy. It is also good practice to ensure that in public places, your body camera is clearly
indicating that it is recording with labels and LED indicators.

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

Can I film secretly with a body camera?

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

Technically there is no law against filming someone secretly in a public place but if you secretly record someone with a bodycam in a private setting then there may be issues. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights grants every individual the right to have their private and family life respected. This right can be used to safeguard one’s image rights, provided they can provide evidence of its infringement, such as the unauthorized recording of a video in a private setting where privacy was reasonably expected.

The key point to take away is where an “expectation of privacy” exists. If there is an expectation of privacy, you cannot film people without their consent.

Can I wear a body camera at work?

This will depend entirely on your specific company’s internal policies and if your place of work is in a public or private place. If you are granted permission to film by your business and as long as due warning is given to colleagues and customers that they are being recorded, then there is no legal reason why not.

In fact, it has become increasingly common for non-security private companies to deploy body cameras at work with the likes of Aldi, Tescos and other high-street names.

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

Can children wear a body camera to school?

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

It is very unlikely that any UK public school would give permission for a student or child to use a body camera on school property, however, they can wear one while travelling to school provided that they are in a public place. It is also advisable that the body camera is clearly labelled and indicates that it is recording at all times. 

It is also important to note that other parents may object to their children being recorded, even by another child. This could cause friction within the local community and even potentially leading to civil suits.

What are the laws regarding police use of body worn cameras?

Originally, Law enforcement, including police forces, followed specific rules dictated by the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice and relevant legislation, such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. More recently, the National Police Chief’s Council has released a guidance on Police use of Body Cameras which has replaced the 2014 guidance issued by the home office. You can see the new guidance here: https://library.college.police.uk/docs/NPCC/Body-worn-video-2022.pdf.

Other relevant guidances include the 2007 Police Use of Images,  the National Digital and Physical Evidence Retention Guidance and the Home Office 2018 Technical Guidance for Body Worn Video Devices

Activation: Officers may be required to activate their body cameras during law enforcement activities, such as interactions with the public, arrests, or responses to calls for service. Some departments may specify certain situations when the cameras should be activated.

Privacy considerations: Officers are usually prohibited from recording in certain sensitive areas, like hospitals or private residences, to protect individuals’ privacy rights.

Deactivation: There may be rules about when officers should turn off their body cameras, especially in situations where privacy is paramount, such as when interacting with victims of sexual assault.

Data retention: Departments typically have policies dictating how long the recorded data should be retained and how it should be stored securely.

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?
, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

Review and access: Access to body camera footage may be restricted to authorized personnel, and there might be protocols for reviewing and releasing the footage, especially if it becomes evidence in an investigation or legal proceeding.

Accountability: Officers may be required to document the reasons for not recording during specific incidents to maintain transparency and accountability.

Training: Officers often receive training on the proper use of body cameras, including when to activate and deactivate them, how to handle the recorded footage, and adherence to departmental policies.

Incident reporting: If an officer’s body camera malfunctions or fails to record during an incident, there may be requirements for reporting the issue promptly.

Are there any specific laws regarding body cameras for security officers?

As with police, there laws regarding security are generally not specifically designed to cover body cameras or security body camera users. Unlike the police, there are no specific security guidances for body cam use. Generally, the laws that are applicable to security officers are the same as those that apply to civilian body camera users such as the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR). Companies with also have to pay attention to Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidances.

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

Are the laws and regulations different for body worn video in prisons?

, What are the body camera laws in the UK?

Body Cameras in prisons and their use are dictated by the Ministry of Justice and HM Prison & Probation Service. They are governed by the same laws that we have discussed above but have an additional guidance that was release in September 2022, the Body Worn Video Cameras (BWVC) Policy Framework

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