Query of the month – CCTV records and standing disposal endorsements

Does your agency capture CCTV footage? Need to know whether your disposal approval processes are compliant with the Public Records Act 2002? Well, this month’s query is about whether or not you could use a standing endorsement for the destruction of CCTV records.

CCTV cameras can generate large volumes of data and some of it may not need to be kept for long periods of time. While the technology may allow you to automate destruction of CCTV records at regular intervals, not all surveillance records can be destroyed automatically.

Any surveillance footage that needs to be captured and kept (i.e. needed for law enforcement, a business activity etc.) must have disposal authorisation and internal endorsement before it can be destroyed. This is a separate process with specific requirements and not meeting these requirements is unlawful disposal of public records.

What surveillance records need to be captured and kept?

Any surveillance footage, either by CCTV or mobile device (e.g. body cameras) MUST be captured and kept if it provides evidence of:

  • an incident or crime and is required for an investigation
  • any other information that is required for an investigation
  • a business activity or provides information about or for a business activity.

Note: you also need to capture any footage recorded by a device for a specific purpose (e.g. body cameras or mobile phone), even if it does not provide evidence of an incident or crime, and retain according to the relevant disposal authorisation

You can find out more about what records to capture and how long to keep them on our Surveillance and monitoring records page.

What are the disposal requirements?

You’ve captured the records you need to, and kept them for as long as necessary, now it’s time to dispose of them. So, what are the disposal requirements?

Before records can be destroyed, you must have:

You must also document the approval for destruction of records and the destruction of the records. You can find all the details about these requirements on the how to destroy records page on our website.

Disposal authorisation for most CCTV records is given under the General Retention and Disposal Schedule (GRDS) but some records might fall under your agency’s core schedule (if you have one) or a sector schedule.

To find out which disposal authorisation to use, and how long you need to keep surveillance and monitoring records for, have a look at the surveillance and monitoring records page on our website.

Can you use a standing endorsement for CCTV records?

One way to streamline your internal disposal approval processes is to use a standing endorsement from your CEO or authorised delegate.

Standing endorsements are used to cover a certain group of records for a set period so they are best suited to high volume, low value records that have reached their minimum retention period and are no longer needed for business use. Standing endorsements should also be regularly reviewed to ensure they are appropriate for the records they cover.

CCTV and other monitoring records of low value with a date-specific disposal trigger may pose a lower risk for applying a standing disposal endorsement – for example records that can be sentenced under 1284 in the GRDS as these only need to be kept for 90 days after the record is created.

However, if the CCTV records are required for legal purposes and/or the disposal trigger is not date specific, a standing disposal endorsement may not be appropriate.

One example of CCTV records that may not be suitable for a standing endorsement is footage that is provided to investigative and law enforcement agencies. These records are covered under disposal authorisation 1202 and must be retained for 1 year after the recordings have been sent to the relevant law enforcement agency. It may be difficult to determine a specific retention period for these records and apply a standing endorsement to cover that period. As the records may also be required for legal purposes, they are more likely to be of higher risk, making them less suitable for a standing endorsement arrangement.

As with all record types, it’s important to do a risk analysis of your CCTV records to make sure your recordkeeping practices allow you to meet your business and legislative requirements. You can find detailed information about assessing and managing recordkeeping risk on our website.

What about Transitory CCTV records?

Routine surveillance footage that doesn’t need to be captured for any of the above reasons may fall under a transitory record class. Transitory records do not need internal endorsement before they can be destroyed, and you also do not need to document their disposal. Of course, you need to make sure the records meet the specific criteria of the transitory class, don’t fall under one of the listed exclusions, and have not been captured into your recordkeeping system.

Depending on your internal recordkeeping practices, you can set up a standing endorsement for these records if you wish. However, as disposal endorsement is not a requirement for these records, you may choose to document your processes in an approved recordkeeping procedure instead.

See also our advice on transitory CCTV records and the disposal freeze for children’s records.

More information

Have more questions? You can contact us via email, telephone (3037 6630), and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Here’s some resources and advice on the website to help you manage CCTV, surveillance and other monitoring records:

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