Private Investigator Sydney’s Blog: Are Surveillance Cameras a Solution for Stock Losses?
Putting up a surveillance camera may seem a simple solution when you are facing problems with stock shrinkage. Your accounting records paint a clear picture but are the customers or your employees the guilty parties.
Covertly watching people has become the new normal. The government has the right to keep a lookout for our own protection. However, secretly spying on customers and employees is different because you are protecting your own interests.
You need to be careful not to cause a backlash among unionised members. Therefore it could be wise to share your thoughts with employee representatives. You may find the situation not as simple it seems legally speaking.
Australian Law and Surveillance Cameras
Every state and territory has regulations controlling the use of surveillance devices. There are penalties for misuse especially when passing the information to third parties. However, law enforcement agencies may issue warrants to access it.
New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, and Canberra also regulate surveillance cameras in the workplace. Therefore, it is essential to take specialist advice before installing equipment that could violate someone’s right to privacy.
This is not an Australia-specific restriction. General Comment 16 of the United Nations Human Rights Committee reads “Surveillance, whether electronic or otherwise, interceptions of telephonic, telegraphic and other forms of communication, wire-tapping and recording of conversations should be prohibited”.
The Legal Principles Governing Placement of Security Cameras
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner confirms the following limitations in the use of surveillance cameras generally:
# The Privacy Act 1988 requires that people collecting information must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles guideline. Some organizations with turnovers under $3 million are exempt.
# Qualifying organizations must inform people in advance that their images may be captured, typically by placing an information sign. They must destroy or de-identify the data when they no longer require it.
Your Turnover May Exempt You Legally but Take Care
Your turnover may exempt you legally from these restraints. None the less we recommend following the intention behind the law, so you are on solid ground if a customer or employee takes exception to a camera.
We have surveillance camera specialists who can advise on discreet, but effective camera placements. They can also advise what you need to do to secure your camera history, and de-identify the images after a reasonable period.