Q) Is it permissible to use covert or hidden cameras or audio equipment?
A) In exceptional circumstances, covert or hidden CCTV cameras can be used when certain conditions are met. Scheme managers must first identify a specific criminal activity and the need for surveillance to obtain evidence of that activity. They must also assess whether using CCTV would prejudice the success of obtaining such evidence, as well as the duration of the monitoring which should not exceed forty days, depending on the nature of the criminal activity. These four points must be documented for transparency.
If the CCTV equipment has a sound recording facility, it should not be used to record private conversations. Ideally, it should be switched off or disengaged. Information obtained from covert systems must only be used to obtain evidence of the specific criminal activity originally identified and documented and not retained or utilised for any other purpose.
Covert systems must not be operated on a permanent basis or for longer than the documented period without reassessment and redocumentation. If the evidence required is obtained within the documented period, the CCTV system should be disengaged. If the period of covert monitoring is found to be inadequate to obtain the required evidence, and the specific criminal activity continues, the aforementioned points must be reassessed and undocumented.
When using covert systems, all procedures relating to overt systems must be adhered to (excluding signage) to comply with the requirements of Data Protection Law.