This is for people thinking about using recording devices to check somebody's care. We have separate information for providers who are considering using surveillance technology in their care service.
Installing a hidden camera or other recording equipment in a care home or other care service is a big decision. It can affect people’s privacy and dignity. And it can have legal consequences as well.
It could help set your mind at ease about the care your loved one receives or even help identify poor care or abuse. It could also intrude on other people’s privacy so there are some important things to consider first.
Try to raise your concerns first
If you are worried about somebody’s care, you should first raise these concerns with the provider of the service. The provider should investigate your concerns.
You can also raise concerns with us or (if the care is funded by them) your local council. We will always listen to what you say. You do not need to send us camera or sound recordings.
Consider the legal risk
Staff at the care service or people visiting your loved one may be uncomfortable being recorded. They may feel it breaches their rights and could take legal action.
The Information Commissioner could also investigate and take enforcement action.
It’s important you consider any legal risks and what you can do to reduce the impact on people’s privacy.
This information is not legal advice. We always recommend you get legal advice before using surveillance.
It's important to understand we cannot authorise you to carry out 'intrusive covert surveillance'. This means we cannot tell you to put hidden cameras or other recording equipment in someone's bedroom. This is because there's a law that sets out when public bodies can use or authorise surveillance. It's called the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000.
Check the provider’s policy
If you tell a care service you are worried enough to be considering using recording equipment, we would expect them to investigate your concerns.
Some care services have rules on recording equipment to protect people’s privacy. Installing equipment without the provider’s knowledge could break the contract you have with them so it is important to check first.
If the staff at the care service removes your recording equipment, they must return it to you and not damage or destroy it. They should not ever refuse to treat someone or care for them properly because this kind of technology is being used. If they do, you should report them to us.
You should only use recording equipment with the permission of the person whose care you are concerned about. It’s important they agree to the use of the technology. Just because somebody does not object to it does not mean they agree to it.
When you get their permission, it is a good idea to explain who you plan to share the recordings with and to write down what you have agreed.
If they are unable to give permission (for example, if they have dementia and cannot make these kinds of decisions) it is important that you feel sure that you are doing the right thing. In other words, acting in their best interests.
Store the recordings securely
You should make sure you keep the recordings secure. Make sure they are not tampered with or shared with anyone who does not have a good reason to see them. For example, if you use a camera that sends images over the internet, choose a secure system and a strong password. Do not share the password with anyone.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has some advice on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).