Frequently Asked Questions;

About BWV

Body Worn Video (BWV) has been in existence since the  early 2000's.

Body worn cameras are now widely used in police forces throughout the world as well as a growing number of private organisations. Body Worn Video cameras are used to capture vital evidence whenever users find themselves in a potentially violent or threatening situation.

Body worn camera evidence delivers benefits in situations particularly when interactions with members of the public are potentially confrontational. Footage can be used as evidence if the suspect is prosecuted and has been proven to increase the number of guilty pleas saving valuable time and money.

Not only does body worn video provide reliable evidence for subsequent prosecution, it has a proven calming effect which reduces the risk of escalation and lowers the exposure to verbal and physical abuse.

Body Worn Video cameras are used to capture vital evidence whenever users find themselves in a potentially violent or threatening situation. Body Cameras can diffuse situations as they alert offenders that their actions are being recorded and could be used in court against them.

Bodycams and SIA Licensing

A headcam/bodycam is a 'hands-free' video recording (and possibly audio recording) device that is worn about the person in order to create a visual record from that person's point of view. This device will usually produce a video feed either to be viewed live by another person in another location, or to be somehow captured and stored for later review.

Individuals who view footage recorded by headcams/bodycams are likely to fall within the definition of public space surveillance (CCTV) activity. If you are employed to use CCTV equipment to monitor the activities of a member of the public in a public or private space, other than for the purposes of protecting property or identifying a trespasser (e.g. if you use CCTV to guard against outbreaks of disorder), and this activity is carried out in connection with any contract for the supply of services, then you will require a Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) licence.*

If you simply wear a headcam or bodycam but do not watch or review any of the footage from that device, the SIA takes the view that this does not fall within the public space surveillance (CCTV) definition. You would therefore not require a Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) licence.

When dealing with matters relating to public space surveillance (CCTV), the Data Protection Act 1998 (and the eight data protection principles that underpin the regulation) must be taken into consideration. Public space surveillance (CCTV) captures information about individuals, and information held by organisations that relates to individuals is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998. Most organisations that process personal data are required to register as a data controller with the Information Commissioner's Office.

*However, if you view footage recorded by headcams/bodycams solely for the purpose of protecting property or identifying a trespasser, then a Security Guard or Door Supervisor licence would be sufficient. Due to licence integration, a Public Space Surveillance (CCTV) licence would also cover you for this activity.


Information Commissioners Office Guidance

Body-worn devices

•Consider whether there is a pressing need to capture images of people in this way.

•Give people appropriate information that such a system is in use.

•Cameras should only be ‘switched on’ during incidents which warrant a recording being made.

7.2 Body worn video (BWV)

BWV involves the use cameras that are worn by a person and are usually attached to their clothing or uniform. These devices can often record both visual and audio information. They are increasingly used across different sectors, most commonly by law enforcement agencies, but their reducing cost means that even small businesses and the public are increasingly able to purchase and use such equipment.

BWV systems are likely to be more intrusive than the more ‘normal’ CCTV style surveillance systems because of its mobility. Before you decide to procure and deploy such a system, it is important that you justify its use and consider whether or not it is proportionate, necessary and addresses a pressing social need. If you are going to use audio recording as well as visual recording, the collection of audio and video needs to be justifiable. It is highly recommended that you undertake a privacy impact assessment to demonstrate that this is the case.

BWV devices have the ability to be switched on or off, but it is important to know when and when not to record. Continuous recording will require strong justification as it is likely to be excessive and cause a great deal of collateral intrusion. This is because continuous recording is likely to capture people going about their daily business, as well as the individual who is the focus of your attention. Remember that the presence of audio recording adds to the privacy intrusion (further detail on audio recording can be found in section 8 of this code). Further justification will be required if you are thinking of recording in more sensitive areas, such as private dwellings, schools, care homes etc. The pressing social need will have to be far greater in order for the use of BWV systems to be necessary and proportionate. This will require the operator to provide more evidence to support its use in this situation.

Example: It may be appropriate for a Parking Enforcement Officer to switch on their BWV camera when they believe an individual is being aggressive or there is the potential for aggression. However, it would not be appropriate to switch it on when an individual is merely asking for directions.

If you want to use a BWV system that includes both video and audio recording, the most privacy friendly approach is to a purchase a system where video and audio recording can be controlled and turned on and off independently of each other. These two types of data processing should be considered as separate data streams and consideration should therefore be given to controlling them separately to ensure that irrelevant or excessive data is not obtained and held. Organisations may feel constrained by what is available on the market in terms of independent controls for audio and video, however this does not preclude organisations specifying the features they require and getting system providers to respond to these demands. The ICO also recommends that system manufacturers consider the advice contained in this code.

Where your BWV system cannot record audio and video separately, it should only be used where the recording of audio and video together can be justified. This is important as there will be situations where either audio recording or visual recording will be more intrusive (generally audio recording is likely to be more intrusive but visual recording may be more intrusive in particular situations, for example, where you encounter somebody in a state of undress). You should therefore assess both visual and audio recording for their privacy intrusion. It is therefore important that you identify a BWV system which has the ability to be controlled in such a manner at the procurement stage, or request a bespoke system be produced that has this ability.

Individuals using BWV systems should be able to provide sufficient fair processing to data subjects. As BWV cameras can be quite small or discreet, and could be recording in fast moving or chaotic situations, individuals may not be aware that they are being recorded. It is therefore important that clear signage is displayed, for example on an individual’s uniform, to show that recording is taking place and whether the recording includes audio. You should also think of ways to provide further information to data subjects if they wish to find out more information, for example, directing them to the privacy notice on your website, if you have one.

Because of the volume of personal data and potentially sensitive personal data that BWV cameras will process and the portability of them, it is important that you have appropriately robust technical and physical security in place to protect this information. For example, make sure devices can be encrypted, or where this is not appropriate have other ways of preventing unauthorised access to information.

However, BWV cameras are part of a larger workflow of information. You will need to make appropriate decisions about retention and disposal. As you may be recording a large amount of information, you need to ensure that you can store all of it and have a retention and disposal policy in place. The policy must set out how long the information should be kept for (this should be the minimum amount of time necessary to fulfil its original purpose) and when it should be disposed of, so that you do not hold excessive amounts of personal data. You should also consider whether you need to retain all of the footage captured by a device, or whether extracting short clips would be more appropriate.

The information should be stored so that recordings relating to a specific individual or event can be easily identified, located and retrieved. You should also store the data in a way that remains under your sole control, retains the quality of the original recording and is adequate for the purpose for which it was originally collected.

You should continue to monitor the use of the BWV system as a whole to see if it is still achieving its original purpose. If it appears that it is no longer achieving this purpose or it is no longer required, you should look at potentially less privacy intrusive methods to address the need.

If you are regularly going to share recorded information with third parties then it is important that you have a data sharing agreement in place with them.

In the picture: A data protection code of practice for surveillance cameras and personal information

Version 1 15/10/14

GDPR and Body Worn Video

New regulations relating to data protection and privacy came into place in May 2019, commonly known as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR sets out to protect individuals by regulating businesses who collect and process information on individuals and there are various requirements that need to be met in order to comply. Non-compliance can lead to fines and penalties.

One thing that is covered by GDPR is CCTV and how footage of individuals is collected and used. Because of this may businesses are questioning how the regulation effects Body Worn Cameras. Body worn cameras can help to keep users safe and diffuse potentially dangerous situations. As such Body worn cameras are now commonly used in many industries including public service, security, retail, hospitality and stadia to name a few.
As far as GDPR, body worn cameras do not fall under the same category as CCTV, there is however a lot of cross over with the guidelines in particular if they plan to use the footage as supporting evidence.

Regulations Summary

  • Collected for a legitimate and specific reason within the confines of the law. It should not be further processed outside of these confines
  • Processed lawfully and transparently
  •  Relevant and limited to what is necessary
  •  Accurate
  • Kept securely and for no longer than necessary
  • Complaint with the individual’s (data subjects) rights
  • Not further transferred without adequate security in place
  • Rights to privacy often depend on what is being filmed, for example those being filmed conducting illegal activity would be reasonably expected to have less entitlement to privacy.

In order to comply with the above it is important to consider the device that is being used. For example some Body Worn Cameras offer features such as time and date stamps. Others have security measures in place to control who exports the data with access only granted to authorised users. Features such as these help ensure compliance.

In summary Body Worn Cameras are compatible with GDPR regulations as long as the data is collected in the correct manner, treated properly following on from this and not kept any longer than needed.

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