A code of practice on the use of surveillance cameras by bodies such as local authorities and police forces has come into effect in England and Wales.
The Home Office introduced the code after concerns over the potential for the abuse or misuse of surveillance by the state in public places.
The code says the cameras must be used “in pursuit of a legitimate aim” and when it “meets a pressing need”.
Campaign group Big Brother Watch said the code did not go far enough.
The code of practice also restricts access to and retention of data, and encourages private operators to apply the code as well as public bodies.
The code says: “Where used appropriately, these systems are valuable tools which contribute to public safety and security and in protecting both people and property.
“The purpose of the code will be to ensure that individuals and wider communities have confidence that surveillance cameras are deployed to protect and support them, rather than spy on them.”
The code of practice has been introduced under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which also established the post of surveillance camera commissioner.
The 12 point code of conduct says the use of a surveillance camera system must:
1. always be for a specified purpose which is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need
2. take into account its effect on individuals and their privacy
3. have as much transparency as possible, including a published contact point for access to information and complaints
4. have clear responsibility and accountability for all surveillance activities including images and information collected, held and used
5. have clear rules, policies and procedures in place and these must be communicated to all who need to comply with them
6. have no more images and information stored than that which is strictly required