back to article Scottish court issues damages to couple over distress caused by neighbour's use of CCTV

A Scottish couple have been awarded damages of more than £17,000 in total for the "extreme stress" they suffered as a result of the "highly intrusive" use of CCTV systems by the owner of a neighbouring property. Debbie and Tony Woolley were awarded £8,634 each after Sheriff Ross, in a ruling issued at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, …

  1. Halfmad

    CCTV is fine

    But you need to be careful how you use it, that's been the case for years and likewise people have been warned for a very long time to only record their own property.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: CCTV is fine

      Couldn't agree more. Needed to install CCTV at a previous address due to some unwanted attention from a group of young gentlemen who delighted in destructive behaviour and I took great care that the view covered my property and into the public road but not any surrounding properties.

      Was a great success as not only did the young gentlemen get their day in court but subsequently I was able to offer the police video coverage of several car crashes (we lived on a junction with almost no visibility) where drivers were making very vigorous claims until they watched the re-runs.

    2. MrXavia

      Re: CCTV is fine

      Agreed, IMHO as long as you point your cameras where you have permission to record, then your fine...

      So for me that is only my property and a tiny bit of the road visible through my drive entrance.

      I try to keep footage for a month, as I know others who have been asked by police for their recordings when a neighbour was robbed...

      Point a camera so it can record in someone else's private property without permission, then that is off!

      (although Surely asking them to adjust the camera is the first step? often it would be done without malice)


      I've always thought public CCTV is a great way to reduce crime, as long as its only used for that purpose, needs extreme controls to ensure privacy as well as prevent crime.

    3. Snorlax

      Re: CCTV is fine

      There is a distinction to be drawn between the use of CCTV by a person in a personal capacity as opposed to in a business capacity, where data protection law would apply.

      I don't believe there is any legal problem (in a personal capacity) with capturing video of a person or location which could just as easily be observed by walking or driving down the street. Or is there?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: CCTV is fine

        Glancing briefly into a garden while passing by without pausing to do so (loitering) would be one thing. Actually mounting a permanent camera linked to a recording device pointing directly at someone's private garden is no different from pointing it into their living room or bedroom.

  2. frank ly

    It's complicated

    "The Akram guest house is downstairs from the Woolley's flat. Both the Woolleys and Akram subsequently installed CCTV systems outside their respective properties."

    So they live in the same building that is split into flats/apartments?

    That's even more reason to have long and detailed discussions with your neighbour if you install CCTV with recording (and audio!).

  3. Gideon 1

    Out-Law goading for big compensation claims

    Scots law differs from English law in that prior rulings are for guidance rather than precedence. A Scots court would take a dim view of attempts to claim excessive amounts of money for distress, and would see it as an attempt to use the court as a tool of war rather than a way to settle a dispute.

    1. Jake Maverick

      Re: Out-Law goading for big compensation claims

      Courts are a tool of war and we should be able to use them as such...when everything else has failed the last resort is court so when in the rare case that you can prove parts of your case, you can never prove all of it....then the enemy should feel utterly destroyed so they don't do it again. If you rip somebody of for 12 million pounds, and the court just fines you 2 million and no jail time....are you likely to dit again or not?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5 days

    Although the circumstances of this case seem to make it clear that the data collection is unreasonable, the 5 day storage also seems to be a point of contention.

    However, assuming the data gathered is legal and reasonable, then 5 days storage does not seem unduly long. Many times police will ask for local cctv data for an incident a few days after an event - they may not even send a crime team around for a day or two. Also you may not notice vandalism or incidents that may have occurred for a few days and yo may be away for a weekend or on holiday.

    Therefore 5 days, to me does not seem excessive or a breach - once again if the initial purpose of the collection is legal and legitimate.

    1. DJ Smiley

      Re: 5 days

      I thought this too, concidering my CCTV records for about 3 months at a time, 5 days is laughable.

      But mine only covers my drive (which I don't really consider private anyway) and the public road where both neighbours park their cars sometimes. Both neighbours are aware and happy for the CCTV to be there (It was installed by the person who lived here prior) and it's managed to capture two break in attempts on cars which were passed onto police.

      Why you'd have CCTV recording a back garden is questionable - you could have it covering the part of the garden concidered 'shared access' but by the sound of things this was directly setup to monitor the entire garden including that which is the other tenants.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: 5 days

        Depends on the PURPOSE.

        If the purpose was stated to be "so we can see who it was that parked and blocked our car in", then you only need a day or so.

        If the purpose was stated to be "to roll back and monitor for crimes that may have occurred recently in a very crime-ridden area" (e.g. shops), 30 days isn't unreasonable.

        If the purpose was "so we could see if they were in the house", 0 days is too much.

        So long as you state the purpose and justify the need for that data retention it's okay. It's when you're recording "for the sake of it" that you can fall foul.

        And I bet personal use is treated as much more reasonable than commercial use.

        There was, however, ZERO NEED to record audio whatsoever, which I see as probably the critical bit.

        I have cameras all over my house. Only the front porch (actually INSIDE the porch) records audio. So that when someone comes to the door and tries to give me the "I'm from your electricity supplier" nonsense that I once had (and complained for attempting to enter my premises / modify my equipment under false pretences), I can nail them to the wall in court.

        I wouldn't want the back garden camera (which only sees my back garden) to record audio. Despite the fact that I'm friendly with the neighbours and put the cameras up for their benefit (they've both been broken into and neither had any kind of security, so I put up extra cameras to monitor the shared areas which were the entry point, after checking that was okay with them), I wouldn't dream of recording the audio of that. Hell, if they want to discuss me in their private garden, that's up to them and they shouldn't be in fear of me doing so.

        And the best way to ensure I don't do that is to buy cameras with ZERO audio capability, except the one that needs it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 5 days

          My comment stated if it was for a legitimate and legal reason. A purpose of "so we can see who it was that parked and blocked our car in", would not be regarded as a legitimate purpose under the DPA and so you would not be able to record those images as they would be deemed excessive.

          Even private individuals are covered under the DPA if they record outside the bounds of their property.

          The generally accepted legitimate purpose for recording CCTV is the "prevention and detection of crime", it would often be hard to justify to the ICO or a court outside of this in most cases. This, I would suggest, is not unreasonable to store 5 days of footage.

          1. PatientOne

            Re: 5 days

            'A purpose of "so we can see who it was that parked and blocked our car in", would not be regarded as a legitimate purpose under the DPA'

            Are you sure about this? I've not checked what would be allowed by the DPA, but blocking someone's drive is an offence (civil rather than criminal) especially if it blocks a car's access to the highway. If it's a frequent problem then I would have thought this would be an effort to gather evidence of harassment if it's the same driver/car each time which would be permitted.

            Obviously I'd hope anyone doing this would check with the police/lawyer first.

            1. Jake Maverick

              Re: 5 days

              but the guy who broke said car's window so he could move it so he could free himself from his own garage....was prosecuted, elderly geezer...80 hours community service i think and lot of money to pay :-( then there is what they did to the actor danny john jules....pigyobs aren't about enforcing the law they're all about breaking it.

          2. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: 5 days

            Almost any legitimate purpose is allowed.

            "To see if the cat comes in the back gate"

            "To see if the deliveries arrived on time"

            "To see if anyone uses that street, and whether we can get rid of it".

            The DPA just covers data - you in a place at a time is personal data.

            And though many places hide behind "crime detection", that wouldn't work in, say, an enclosed room that is inside a secure complex where nobody can get anyway.

            Birdhouses have cameras in nowadays.

            Wildlife cameras strapped to trees.

            All kinds of reasons, that are nothing to do with crime detection (which there are NO special exceptions in the DPA or related legislation for, unless you are quite literally the police).

            They weren't stating that it was to prevent crime. They stated it was to monitor parking or similar. That's not a crime. It's a completely valid use of the system. But it does not require audio or recording into private gardens. The latter is what was thrown out, not the former.

            If you don't know this, and you have cameras under your control (personal or professional), I suggest you go read the relevant advice and legislation.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: 5 days

              "If you don't know this, and you have cameras under your control (personal or professional), I suggest you go read the relevant advice and legislation."

              I am well aware of the legislation and guidelines.

              The DPA does not kick in on personal property if CCTV is not pointing outside the bounds of the property, however it does if you have a camera where the street is shown . The DPA does come into effect for commercial properties where images of people will be captured.

              "To see if the cat comes in the back gate" :- personal property, you don't need consent from your cat

              "To see if the deliveries arrived on time" - if personal property it doesn't matter

              "To see if anyone uses that street, and whether we can get rid of it". - is covered by the DPA and would be unlikely to be allowed as their are non-intrusive ways of doing it.

              "that wouldn't work in, say, an enclosed room that is inside a secure complex where nobody can get anyway." - If nobody can get to it, why would you need a camera, and how would you install it?

              "Birdhouses have cameras in nowadays." - the rights of birds aren't protected by the DPA

              "Wildlife cameras strapped to trees." - If these picked up members of the public outside of your property they would be covered by the DPA

              "All kinds of reasons, that are nothing to do with crime detection (which there are NO special exceptions in the DPA or related legislation for, unless you are quite literally the police)." Who mentioned exceptions? These are legitimate purposes for recording CCTV images and are covered by the DPA and therefore the use and protection of that data must be held and used in accordance with the DPA.

              Here is th einformation you require if you wish to read further on the subject:


        2. Michael Strorm

          Re: 5 days

          @ Lee D; "I wouldn't want the back garden camera to record audio. [..] Hell, if they want to discuss me in their private garden, that's up to them and they shouldn't be in fear of me doing so."

          You're not fooling me with that one.

    2. Tikimon

      Re: 5 days

      That's plenty of time to copy it to another longer-term storage medium.

  5. Potemkine Silver badge

    Bllody EU

    the Court of Appeal in London said that position was not consistent with EU law

    So now Brussels forbids Britons to harass their neighbors... what a shame, Britons need to get their country back

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Bllody EU


        1. Baldy50

          Re: Bllody EU

          Right away when I read it I thought 'Is your keyboard getting tired too', my 'N' doesn't always work and I have a new one sat there! Couldn't be bothered swapping the keys around, till I have to.

          Then thought Bill Oddie EU, perfect!

          I think it might actually be pronounced that way BTW in parts of the UK, from Cheshire and working somewhere foreign, like Ummm! Bolton and having someone repeat what they've just said five or more times is a giggle, Glasgow, whooooosh!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck CCTV

    Id much rather pour resources into fixing society.

    CCTV doesnt prevent anything, it just allows you catch the perpertrators and fill up jails.

    Installing CCTV wouldnt make me feel any safer personally. If someone genuinely wants to do you harm they will, it's as simple as that. CCTV just helps to ensure its down a dark alley rather than at home.

    I also find it slightly creepy when people surround their houses with CCTV.

    I think the easiest way to reduce crime and increase safety in a neighbourhood is to simply go for a walk. If everyone took the time for a quick stroll round the block with a friend every so often you'd reduce opportunistic crime significantly.

    You'll also be healthier for it.

    I can't be the only person that sees a correllation between people being visible on the streets and lower crime rates.

    All that said, I do live in a relatively safe area (reasonably quiet suburb)...but I also regularly take a trot round the block (at least 3 or 4 times a week) and I tend to see other people doing this regularly too. Not just dog walkers.

    If we keep ramping up CCTV and home security at the rate we are we'll become a laughing stock.

    Look at South Africa, a lot of people there have extreme security and armed response.

    Ive spent considerable time out there and I've never seen or heard of crimes being committed more frequently than in the UK.

    Sure the townships can be hardcore but the crime there is pretty much isolated.

    Ive never felt unsafe there. If anything though I have felt intimidated somewhat, especially if stand in the same place in front of someones house on a public road for more than a few minutes. Theres always some petrified idiot comes shuffling about to see if you're there to cause trouble.

    The paranoia is off the charts.

    All the high walls and fences create blind spots as well. Just stupid.

    Just a quick tip Saffas, threats are easier to deal with if you can see them coming. Trim your trees and bushes, light your garden'll never shit yourself when the bushes rustle ever again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fuck CCTV

      By your reckoning cities should be the safest place in the country then with all those people walking around the block.

      Shame for you that evidence seems to contradict that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fuck CCTV

        Ah good, a response citing evidence without actually citing evidence.

        Please by all means cite your evidence.

        Cities are also the most surveilled by CCTV thus proving the point that it does nothing. Money is better spent on fixing community issues (however that may be executed, lets finally make jobs for the waster sociologists out there) than installing redundant tech.

        Id posit that cities generally are safer. Having more crime doesnt make crime more likely. The populations in cities are vastly higher.

        E.g. 10 murders in a population of tens of thousands is significantly worse than say 100 murders in a population of millions.

        CCTV is just a modern implementation of hindsight.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fuck CCTV

      "CCTV doesnt prevent anything, it just allows you catch the perpertrators and fill up jails."

      Our company used to rent offices on a small industrial estate on the edge of a housing estate. We had trouble with people throwing bottles from the housing estate into our car park, damaging several vehicles. Police were sympathetic but the estate management company (to whom we paid extortionate fees) couldn't give a toss.

      We put up dummy CCTV cameras pointing at the location from where the bottles were being launched.

      The bottle throwing instantly stopped.

      (Final sting in the tail: When we ended our lease, as part of the insane level of "reparations" imposed by the landlord, there was a fee for them having to remove the dummy cameras. Bastards).

  7. Haku

    CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

    The curved road immediately outside our house is only wide enough for one vehicle to pass, the drystone wall next to the road gets knocked almost on a regular basis from lorries using satnav, which over the years has resulted in broken stones and a few times a section of the wall being knocked right down.

    When it came to filing a police report of the latest knock down incedent (the wall was only just rebuilt a couple of weeks ago) they asked us if we had CCTV footage of the incedent and I think they suggested we get some installed to get the vehicle and hopefully the registration plate 'on film' due to the regularity of poor lorry drivers.

    I'm easily capable of installing such a HD system to capture footage of every vehicle & their registration plate that passes, but it would also capture high quality footage of everyone who also walks past, including the many parents and their children walking to the primary school just along the road.

    Do I install the system and hope nobody complains? Or just leave it to the insurance company to keep forking out for the stupid lorry drivers that blindly follow their satnavs?

    We have tried to get the council to put up signs at the ends of the road warning lorry drivers but they said no.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

      Why not make your own sign and put it up?

      1. Haku

        Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

        It probably won't 'fly' because a neighbour a few doors away has just recently become a councillor and would quickly notice it. Although god knows how he got that position - he got an ASBO some years back, I forget what incedent caused it but he's been a general arsehole to his neighbours for decades.

        Maybe he'll get a sign sorted but I doubt it as he doesn't have the same issue with the narrow road we do.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

      "Do I install the system and hope nobody complains?"

      Was the police advice given in writing? It would make it easier to deal with complaints.

    3. Pseudonymous Clown Art

      Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

      Why not give up and just remove the wall? Its clearly in the way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

        Or replace it with something more substantial - how about these concrete blocks they have outside airport terminals nowadays? Maybe not so aesthetically pleasing, but would make a right old mess of an HGV cab, and that would be pleasing in itself surely?

        1. Brad Ackerman

          Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

          Standard EN 1317 guardrail rated for very high containment; they're designed to "redirect" 30 t HGVs.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

          > Or replace it with something more substantial

          RSJ / i-beam steel girder is pretty cheap. Next time the wall is damaged, get 6ft of girder and position at the crown of the bend, 2ft sunk in the ground and 4 ft sticking up. Rebuild the drystone walling right up to it and next time the lorry will get something to chew on. :-)

      2. Haku

        Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

        Unfortunately the police didn't say it in writing about suggesting CCTV, and entire wall removal could get tricky because part of it is integrated into the structure of 2 houses.

        The BBC news website reported in January this year that councils have said lorries should be banned from using satnavs for cars as lorry specific ones know details about low bridges & narrow roads, although enforcing it could prove tricky, especially if for example a lorry driver had the right satnav installed but choose to use their smartphone instead because they tried to use a shorter/quicker route, or simply ignored the satnav.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

          "Unfortunately the police didn't say it in writing about suggesting CCTV"

          Maybe if you asked them nicely?

        2. Jake Maverick

          Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

          well, regardless criminal damage, driving like a lunatic, endangering life/ manslaughter/ murder by depraved indifference...all these things are prosecutable offences...they just choose not to prosecute, which is the problem :-(

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

      This would be allowed, Just have a CCTV that covers the area concerned, use privacy filters to block any areas it shouldn't. Make sure you have a notice saying recording is taking place and contact details for queries.

      Anyone who complains, show them the cctv coverage so they can see you are only covering that wall. If they still complain I would suggest removing it or else you may be required to justify it in court at a later date.

      1. Natasha Live

        Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

        This is not a case where one neighbour is using CCTV and others complain. ICO has only has power when businesses are involved and not private citizens.

        this is a case where a business is not following the rules covering CCTV usage on/around their property. In this case they violated the rules by only keeping limited footage and by recording Audio (huge no no). At work I have a professional audio recording system, but it extremely limited. It runs for a short period when activated. It announces it's activation over the speaker system and announces it's deactivation as well. By not doing similar in this case they ran a foul of the CCTV guidelines as laid out by the ICO.

        I have CCTV at my home which is Video only and according to a rather pricy law firm in Leeds, there is no law covering domestic CCTV directly. They only way it could be run foul of the law is if I used it to harass my neighbours. Also it is fine to record public areas such as the Queen's highways. This is how Google gets to drive their cars around and News gets to show busy streets, etc.

        1. handle

          Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

          @ Natasha Live:

          "ICO has only has power when businesses are involved and not private citizens."

          From the link so helpfully provided earlier: "The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regulates and enforces the Data Protection Act (DPA) ... if your CCTV covers any areas beyond the boundaries of your property it will no longer be regarded as domestic processing and be exempt from the DPA."

          "Also it is fine to record public areas such as the Queen's highways. This is how Google gets to drive their cars around and News gets to show busy streets, etc."

          Haven't you noticed that Google Street View images don't move, have no time and date attached, and also have all personal information blurred out?

          And what happens when someone enters the area where the professional recording system of which you boast has already started operating, so that they don't hear the announcement?

          I think you need to do some more research before you find yourself in hot water, starting with the realisation that however pricey is your law firm in Leeds, the information they give is unlikely to trump that presented on a government website.

    5. Jake Maverick

      Re: CCTV coverage, where is the line drawn?

      I hope you will stay strong! and not install the damn have no right to record my movements walking past...there has been a lot of cases where people install such cameras to do precisiely when they know you're not in they can break into your house and steal stuff...and/ or for sexual purposes.

      There was a guy who lived few doors down from my Nan. Pigyobs encouraged him to put up CCTV so he could 'monitor' the children playing in the field opposite....trouble was he was a pedophile. He also had a bike business selling from his residential property...looked total mess, hundreds of bikes all over his property....most of them were for children, very few adult size bikes i noticed.....that is supposed to be illegal as well but pigyobs were not interested in that...I routinely used to see him sitting outside his house watching the kids whilst pretending to read his newspaper. It was obvious he was pretending as he stayed on the same page for over an hour....once he even had it upside down. Te real purpose of the newspper was to obscure the view of what his hand was doing in his lap....

      consequently i stopped visiting my gran so often as it was a risk having my movements recorded like that.

      then there are also the cases of them putting it into ambulances so they can sell the footage to TV companies for entertainment and the like...i mean jesus f**** h christ....there is no rule of law which is why i think this judgement will be appealed and then squashed....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better ruling would be to pay for loses

    IMO a better ruling would be to pay for the Woolley move, including losses due to property devaluation. Rulings like these rarely actually end the tension until one party moves away, or as sometimes happens ends up butchered in their own home (local but famous incident).

    I sold one of my places to a "problem" neighbour. I dropped by after a few years only to discover all the neighbours I wanted to visit had moved. One family changed the whole neighbourhood and drove down prices. Which is good for some but those taking the loses should be compensated.

  9. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Re Blocking in

    Not CCTV but a bit of advice. We used to live on a very busy road parking wise and parked up an alleyway at the side of the house and frequently arseholes parked on the yellow lines at the end of our driveway blocking sometimes 3 cars in. We used to phone the police and they would get the offending vehicles towed by a private company if they couldn't contact the vehicles owner and they would have to pay over £300 to get the vehicle back - we got nothing despite loosing a lot of money it taxi and other cost in not being able to use our own cars.

    We were advised we could go to the small claims court to recover any costs to us due to the tossers but the police said they couldn't give use the drivers details - unless we were registered with some parking ripoff group.

    Fun could be had with a trolley jack and a couple of cast iron bollards but this was not technically allowed but did amuse those involved.

    1. Gordon861

      Re: Re Blocking in

      Technically if you can show the DVLA that you have a justifiable reason for requesting an owner search from a reg number you should be able to get it. They may require you to start the County Court proceedings first against 'The owner of XXXX vehicle' but it should be possible.

  10. Joe Harrison

    When are we going to stop

    When are we going to stop calling video surveillance "CCTV"?

    I'm guessing the term "Closed Circuit Television" comes from the 1950s so that people would not get it mixed up with Proper Television you know with the Test Card and Watch With Mother.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My lovely

    fucking crack / smack head of a neighbour had their front windows smashed by some other crack / smack head scrote a few months ago. As my car is on the drive and i live right next door to the fucking waste of DNA, i installed 2 cameras to protect the drive and monitor the junction where i have to pull out due to the cars that fail to indicate. Last november, the scroate that bricked the window decided to torch the same house, fortunately i had a fire extinguisher and put out the flames. After checking my footage we witnessed the little cunt leaving the property after setting the fire. After he set the fire, he walked into the town centre and stabbed a bloke in the head, all on CCTV. Bet he hates CCTV.

    I detest the snooping by govt CCTV but my own CCTV and the town centre was instrumental in nailing and jailing this piece of shit for attempted murder and arson with intent to endanger life whilst out on bail for criminal damage (the window he smashed).

  12. Jake Maverick

    Finally, a sensible ruling from a Court...unfortunately I feel that it is likely to be appealed and judgement squashed. That said it does not go anywhere far enough....likely their home thatthey could no longer enjoy/ properly live in is costing more than £10 a day?

    Personally, at this point I would have smashed the damn things in their situation. There was doc on TV few years ago with a couple in a similar position....they simulated sex and took the piss on their own driveway, stuck 2 fingers up at cams etc....and they were the one's that ended up getting prosecuted perversely! Think found not guilty in the end but the perps never prosecuted and they were many thousands out of pocket....cameras presumably still there!

    I've had same thing myself....had a camera poitning through my bedroom window 24/7 for several by the local council as well and I was forced to pay for the cost of it. I took them to court and the judge would not even comment on it....I could even get access to the images recorded on it.....later on I also found hidden cameras installed in my bedroom and go figure!

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