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    The demand for CCTV cameras has skyrocketed in recent years, with there now being an estimated 5.2 million security cameras in the UK alone.

    Surveillance technology has progressed rapidly, meaning it can be easy to fall behind and end up left in the dark when it comes to keeping your property secure. In fact, up to 80% of the CCTV footage seized by police is of such a low quality that it is completely useless in criminal trials.

    In this blog we’ve answered 20 common questions concerning CCTV systems to help you to stay in the loop.

    Jump To

    1. What Is CCTV?
    2. What Does CCTV Stand For?
    3. How Does CCTV Work?
    4. How Does CCTV Store Footage?
    5. How Long Does CCTV Footage Last (UK)?
    6. How to Save Footage From CCTV?
    7. How Much Storage Does CCTV Use?
    8. How Long Can You Store CCTV Footage?
    9. Is it Legal to Record Audio on CCTV (UK)?
    10. Can I Install CCTV on My Property?
    11. Where Can I Point My CCTV Cameras?
    12. Do You Have to Display Signs if You Have CCTV?
    13. Why Is CCTV Quality So Bad?
    14. Which CCTV Camera Is Best?
    15. Which Is Better, CCTV or IP Camera?
    16. What Is IR Camera CCTV?
    17. How Do I Connect CCTV to my Phone?
    18. How Much Does CCTV Cost?
    19. Does CCTV Add Value to Your Home?
    20. Can CCTV Be Hacked?

    Axis camera 1

    1. What Is CCTV?

    CCTV is a type of video surveillance which is generally used for security purposes, to monitor risk and capture security breaches. The main function of CCTV is to view and record footage at locations where cameras are placed, to deter criminals and keep an eye on affairs as a whole.

    A CCTV system can be an aid to both home and business owners alike. Aside from offering security and peace of mind, businesses use CCTV for retail intelligence, health and safety and operations monitoring.

    If you're looking for a professional overview of CCTV - and what it can do - make sure to check out our in-depth guide: Everything You Need to Consider About CCTV Systems.

    2. What Does CCTV Stand For? 

    CCTV stands for Closed-Circuit Television. Within a closed-circuit system, the feed is sent to a select number of monitors. Through this closed-circuit system, access to their content is only available to the CCTV owner.

    Over the years, CCTV has become a blanket term to describe video surveillance tech, but it’s worth knowing what it means at its core. CCTV does not simply define a security camera but the surveillance system as a whole, including the interface where you view footage and servers where the data is stored.

    Verkada cameras.

    3. How Does CCTV Work?

    CCTV works by providing a live feed to cameras through a network. Most basic systems will be able to record this footage to watch later, which is essential to track events. Although this is just the bare minimum that CCTV has to offer in the modern day. New tech including video analytics and AI have blown the world of surveillance tech wide open, offering proactive alternatives to traditional security, which has typically been reactive and only allows the user to respond to a crime after it has already happened. 

    In order to reap the benefits of CCTV, cameras need to be placed around a site to ensure there are no blind-spots which could hide suspicious activity and present additional breach potential. Ensuring your CCTV is set up correctly from camera placement and motion detection to a secure network, is the key to an efficient surveillance system. You’ll find everything you need to know in our blog: CCTV Installations: 4 Final Considerations.

    cloud cctv 1

    4. How Does CCTV Store Footage?

    Generally, CCTV systems would store footage using on-site hardware such as DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) and NVRs (Network Video Recorders), but new tech including the cloud has changed the way we store footage. You are no longer constrained by the size of the recorder and the installed hard-drive. 

    With cloud CCTV, footage is stored in a data centre where it cannot be tampered with and isn't liable to damage such as in the event of a fire on your property. It also offers unlimited storage as you aren’t limited by the physical hardware on site. 

    Cloud CCTV storage simply requires an internet connection to save your footage and removes the need for regular maintenance visits to your premises for patches and updates, as these can be carried out remotely. Discover An Expert's Guide to Cloud CCTV.


    5. How Long Does CCTV Footage Last (UK)? 

    In theory, CCTV footage can last forever if you keep it saved to a hard-drive or disk. So long as you have a competent CCTV system you can have the control over how long to keep your footage (although there are legal requirements in certain settings). We have installed systems that store footage from three days to nine years! You’re only limited by the hardware you purchase and of course your budget.

    6. How to Save Footage From CCTV?

    CCTV footage is either saved off-site within the cloud, or to on-site hardware such as DVR, NVR or a microSD card in the camera itself. Cloud CCTV improves the security of your average surveillance systems by providing off-site storage which cannot be damaged or tampered with. Legacy systems which store footage on-site have been targeted by criminals in order to delete the evidence of their crimes.

    Traditional vs Cloud CCTV]

    7. How Much Storage Does CCTV Use?

    The amount of storage you will use up on a hard-disk will be dependent on the number of cameras, the resolution at which you wish to store the footage and the compression tech you are using. As a general rule, for 4K footage to be stored for 30 days we would usually recommend 1TB per camera.

    With cloud CCTV, storage becomes virtually unlimited. With the advantage of remote upgrades, additional storage can be added to your system when it is needed. With cloud CCTV, you won’t run the risk of running out of storage, and you have the freedom to scale up when you need to. This could be adding more cameras or extending to new locations whilst keeping everything linked to view from a centralised monitoring system. 

    Find out more in our blog: Cloud Security Systems: The Future of Physical Security.

    8. How Long Can You Store CCTV Footage?

    By law, video data including CCTV footage should be kept no longer than is needed for use in legal proceedings, insurance claims or any other ICO-approved purpose. Typically our clients hold CCTV footage for 30 days.


    9.Is it Legal to Record Audio on CCTV (UK)?

    CCTV can only record audio in a public setting if there is a reasonable purpose, such as where audio CCTV would be essential for safety. Most businesses avoid audio security cameras as the legal problems are not worth the benefits. 

    If you were to use audio CCTV in the workplace, all members of staff would need to be made aware of this, and if members of the public visit this workplace, recording their discussions would be classed as unlawful. According to the Invasion of Privacy Act, audio recordings are illegal unless you are involved in the conversation. This is why businesses avoid audio CCTV as it would be impossible to track and monitor this.

    10. Can I Install CCTV on My Property?

    As a home or business owner, you have the right to install CCTV on your property, provided it is in accordance with GDPR and DPA laws. These laws do not typically apply to CCTV at a home residence, ensuring they only have a view of your property. Beyond this, installing CCTV must adhere to data protection laws.

    Home cctv (1)

    11. Where Can I Point My CCTV Cameras?

    Where you can point your CCTV cameras depends on the setting where security cameras are required and the purpose of these cameras. Video surveillance in a workplace or business must comply with data protection laws, which generally outline an expectation for privacy. This means there are limitations on where you can point cameras. Locations including toilets, changing rooms and public streets are notably off limits unless there is a justifiable reason for health and safety or risk of personal harm. 

    At a residential property, your surveillance cameras can usually point anywhere in the vicinity of your home. This covers the perimeter of your property including the garden and front porch. Although if your home CCTV cameras overlook the street or a neighbour's property, GDPR and DPA laws will now apply.

    12. Do You Have to Display Signs if You Have CCTV?

    Signs declaring the use of CCTV must always be used in a commercial or business environment, in alignment with GDPR and DPA laws. Failing to provide the appropriate signage can result in liability for the business owner. 

    Although when it comes to residential CCTV, signs are not required so long as your security cameras only record footage within the boundaries of your home. However once your home security cameras impose upon a public space or neighbours property, you instantly become a data controller, with the legal obligation to protect the personal data of those in your video feed. Refusing to notify where people are being filmed is a breach of this. 

    Find out more about video surveillance legislation and your legal requirements in our blog CCTV and UK Law: The Legal Considerations

    CCTV in operation

    13. Why Is CCTV Quality So Bad?

    CCTV quality is often poor due to outdated cameras and old systems. If you are using an outdated surveillance system in the modern world, the quality and accuracy of the system will only worsen over time. This can be due to fewer or no software updates, in addition to discontinuous tech and limited support from the supplier, since they probably no longer work with this tech. 

    To ensure the quality of your CCTV is up to standard, pick a modern security provider who uses up-to-date tech. It is so important that your CCTV setup is designed expertly with your objective in mind to make sure that when you need the footage the most it’s there and of a high quality. Find out more in our blog: Is it Time to Upgrade My CCTV Cameras?

    14. Which CCTV Camera Is Best?

    There are an overwhelming number of brands and camera options when it comes to CCTV. There are some important considerations when selecting the right CCTV camera kit and system for you. This useful guide will help you through this process, but generally you will want to consider the following:

    • What is the objective of the CCTV cameras (capture evidence, monitor queues, detect PoI (Person of Interest), inspect machinery, recognise number plates etc.)?
    • Do you want the camera to see at night and is colour at night important to you?
    • Are you expecting to expand your CCTV in the future?
    • Do you want to access your cameras on your mobile phone?
    • Do you want to invest in CCTV cameras with a one, three, five or ten year warranty?
    • Do you want the ability to upgrade your system in the future without having to replace all components?

    At the Chris Lewis Group, we work with industry leading tech manufacturers including Verkada, Axis, Milestone, Avigilon and Hikvision to offer customers the latest and greatest options on the market. Take a look at what we can do for you.

    Axis camera 2

    15. Which Is Better, CCTV or IP Cameras?

    IP cameras are a type of CCTV and considered a superior type of security camera. Their competition is standard Analogue CCTV. This has its constraints due to only offering a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 and no AI built into the camera.

    Failing to move with the times when it comes to security tech opens you up to risk for a number of reasons:

    • Performance will decrease and breakdowns are more frequent.
    • Parts including replacements could be discontinued.
    • Older systems may no longer be manufactured or receive customer support.
    • Modern software won’t be compatible with your system.
    • Software updates will be rare if there are any at all which will offer limited features and bring cyber security risks.

    16. What Is IR Camera CCTV?

    Infrared CCTV cameras have the ability to record at night or in dark locations, removing the need for security lights. Using infrared light, images can be lit in the dark, enabling you to have a visible live stream from your security cameras at any time. This is an advantage to business owners who are using CCTV to protect their property at night, whilst they are absent.

    Have you considered using white light cameras to achieve colour images at night? With dual night vision tech of infrared and white light LEDs, this camera is capable of capturing images and video in complete darkness, even in colour.

    17. How Do I Connect CCTV to My Phone?

    Most modern security camera systems can link to your mobile phone, through an app or via the browser, provided you have an internet connection. A technician can set this up for you during the installation process, to ensure you can seamlessly use this feature whether you are on-site or on-the-go.

    Control4 app

    18. How Much Does CCTV Cost?

    Expertly installed and designed systems can cost anything from £1200 - £120k+. The cost of your CCTV setup will depend on factors including, the size of your property, how many cameras you want to install, and any additional features you require with your security cameras such as video analytics. 

    There is a range of CCTV cameras available off-the-shelf from Amazon and similar retailers, but it’s never worth risking the security of your home or business with this DIY tech. Your system will require professional installation to ensure it is secure. This might be more expensive initially, but will remove the risk of you losing out down the line from a breach.

    19. Does CCTV Add Value to Your Home?

    Yes. A new CCTV system will definitely add value to your home. Once a property has secure and reliable CCTV installed, a future owner would not need to consider installing one. This can be advantageous to you as a property owner when looking to sell. 

    Plus, an effective CCTV setup will ensure the value of your home, and expensive items within, are protected by providing an increased level of security.

    Moat House-1

    20. Can CCTV Be Hacked?

    CCTV can be hacked if precautions are not taken to prevent this, such as professional installation and opting for trusted security tech and providers. With the rate of cybercrime increasing year upon year, it’s important for any CCTV owner to understand how to protect their surveillance tech from a potential hack. Here are 3 ways to reduce the risk of a CCTV hack:

    1. Keep good password hygiene. Change passwords from the default when installed and continue to frequently change.
    2. Use two-factor authentication.
    3. Ensure all cameras are on their own dedicated network as opposed to the shared Local Area Network (LAN).

    Final Thoughts

    CCTV has been recognised as an essential tool for business and homeowners alike. But failing to understand how your CCTV works and which system is best for you will only do more harm than good.

    It’s never worth just grabbing any off-the-shelf system and expecting to reap the full benefits of surveillance tech. A poor CCTV system is equivalent to no CCTV system. 

    Always ensure to have an expert install your CCTV. If you have any further questions about security cameras, a good provider will be able to offer the right answers. As an added benefit, a reliable installer will offer a care package programme to resolve your queries, as well as giving you the ability to integrate your CCTV system with other smart home security techs, such as burglar alarms. While also ensuring that your system is always well-maintained, up to date and fully functional.

    Get in touch with our experts today to see how we can support you

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    Luke Lewis-Rippington
    I run our sales, technical design and marketing initiatives for the business. I work closely with manufacturers and trade associations to keep abreast with the latest technology and regulations making sure our clients are getting the very best and latest systems available.