Footage from security cameras has over the years, gained recognition from law enforcement agencies to the extent that it can be used as evidence in court. Individuals and businesses install CCTV cameras for various reasons, including:
- Surveillance: Cameras can be installed in strategic places to enable individuals and businesses to monitor in real time, the happenings in and around their homes or businesses. Examples include homes, warehouses, malls, reatail stores, supermarkets, factories, distribution centers and other business premises. Usually, surveillance cameras are installed in such a manner that they are conspicuous, to act as a deterrence.
- Crime Deterrence: In this case, the cameras are installed in public places, especially crime hotspots, in order to detect and prevent criminal activity. Since the aim of these cameras is to scare criminals, the positioning is usually very conspicuous. For this reason, the cameras may be installed in the same places, as those for surveillance, but with a different purpose.
Anyone with a CCTV system installed has the responsibility to disclose any relevant footage from his/her security cameras that might help law enforcement agencies to apprehend criminals. Legislation allows for such disclosures, regardless of the purpose for installing the cameras.
Law enforcers are permitted to request for, or confiscate security footage from any individual or business, whose cameras might have recorded relevant events that may help with investigations. Such footage could also be presented as evidence in a court of law. However, certain requirements must be met, for any video or images captured on CCTV cameras to stand as evidence, namely;
- The footage or images should be "watermarked" and time stamped.
- The presentation and storage of the security footage should ensure that its integrity is not compromised.
Therefore, one must ensure that he/she selects a professional security camera system that among other things, "watermarks" and "time stamps" all footage. At the same time, the CCTV system should offer a secure medium, through which one can store and retrieve recorded footage; access should be restricted to authorized parties only.
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