Watchdog wants police to limit CCTV demand on pubs

Tough new government guidelines are to be demanded to stop police making unfair requests to pubs and clubs around the use of CCTV.

Privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to make the plea in response to the government’s plans for a mandatory code of practice for the industry.

The ICO fears police are using licensing conditions to make pubs install CCTV or identity scanners, which can provide information on their drinkers.

Under the new mandatory code of practice consulation, the government avoided plans to make CCTV a blanket condition for all pubs, but councils will be able to force outlets in trouble-spots to operate surveillance if it feels it is needed.

Deputy information commissioner David Smith said strict new rules to reign in police demands were still required and urged clarity in the code.


“What we are worried about is that businesses are being forced into gathering information for police and the law enforcement agencies,” he said.

“The question is whether we are going too far and is this surveillance at a level that is unacceptable that doesn’t justify the benefits. Pubs and clubs should not become information gathering sources for police.”

Smith said the ICO wanted some “very clear guidance” on how far police can go. “We wonder how many landlords have simply gone along with police demands when there weren’t any proper grounds to do so,” he added.

An ICO spokeswoman later said: “There needs to an absolute reason why CCTV or ID scanners need to be in place. We understand that CCTV can serve an important purpose, but we don’t want licensees to feel they have to have CCTV to have a licence.”

Earlier this year, Islington licensee Nick Gibson won a battle with police not to have CCTV at his newly-opening pub on the basis it would interfere with his customer’s civil liberties.

The public consultation on the code of practice close on August 5.