The minimum retention time for minor crimes is recommended to be 14 days and the maximum retention time for serious incidents is recommended to be 31 days, however, each supermarket is different.
Some stores are direct about how long they keep their CCTV footage, whereas others just say that they will keep information like this for as long as necessary. Here are some examples from popular retailers in the UK:
- How long does Asda keep CCTV footage? They keep the CCTV footage in their system for approximately 14 to 60 days (Asda Privacy Centre, 2019). As you can see, that’s more than 31 days but is an acceptable day range.
- How long does Tesco keep CCTV footage? They will keep the CCTV data for 1 month after its creation (Tesco Privacy Centre, 2021). They have chosen this duration for both small and big crimes.
This information will be different in every country because each has different data protection laws. Our information is accurate for the supermarkets based in the UK.
In this article, we’ll look at why supermarkets keep CCTV footage, with whom they share it, whether you can ask for this footage and how you can make this request, and whether anyone in these stores actually checks the footage.
Why do supermarkets keep CCTV footage?
According to Sainsbury’s, CCTV footage in supermarkets is used to protect their colleagues, customers, and business whenever incidents and criminal activities occur in their stores, petrol stations, and car parks.
Asda also used CCTV footage for training and awareness as well as to understand their challenges better. This footage must be deleted after a certain time period.
To whom do supermarkets share their CCTV footage?
Supermarkets share their CCTV footage with the police, local authorities, and government agencies. This is to prevent and deter crime. If you are associated with a law firm or an insurance company, then they can request this information too.
As long as there is evidence that they can actually claim it. In some cases, it might be shared with third-party partners, for example, the CCTV system distributor.
Can I request CCTV footage from a supermarket?
Yes, you have the right to request CCTV footage from a supermarket. You can do this by either writing to the owner of the CCTV system or by asking them verbally.
You have the right to do this under the Data Protection Law so make sure to mention this fact. However, keep in mind that most stores don’t keep their footage for more than 30 days, therefore you might not be able to access it as it could have been deleted.
In some cases, the supermarket might refuse to share the footage with you because other people can be seen in it and that would be breaking their rights.
However, alternative arrangements can be. For example, view it at the shop itself. You should also know that you don’t have to pay for it if you’ve requested the footage within 1 calendar month.
How can I request CCTV footage from a supermarket?
- To begin with, you need to identify who owns the camera. If an incident happened within the store, their gas station, or car park, then you would have to get in touch with that store owner. Sometimes the footage you need gets captured by a camera that is not owned by that shop, in which case you’d have to contact somebody else.
- ICO has a ‘Subject Access Request‘ that you’ll need to fill out and send to the store This can be used to access personal information that an organisation holds about you, how and where it is used, who they share it with and where they got it from. Make sure they put as much details as possible in this request so that the store can provide you with the footage as soon as possible.
- It is also important that you share some form of identification with them as it will prove that you are the actual person seeking sensitive information. The supermarket has the right to decline your request if you refuse to share it with them.
How often do stores check their cameras?
Most stores only check their CCTV cameras after a major incident has happened, such as shoplifting or when an employee has been abused.
This is due to the fact that supermarkets usually don’t have enough money to spend on guards or officers who can monitor their cameras. However, if a supermarket does have enough people monitoring CCTV, then we can assume they see the footage every single day.
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Supermarkets have different policies when it comes to CCTV footage, however, all of them must delete it after a certain time has passed.
Most supermarkets choose to keep the footage for a maximum of 60 days, but it can be deleted after 30 days. So, if you want to claim it, you need to keep this in mind and find out what the policy is for that specific supermarket.
While it is your right to access CCTV footage of yourself, this is not possible when other people can be seen in it. In this case, you might be invited to view the footage in person.
Before you can do this, you’ll need to fill out a request form made by the ICO. Whether the request gets approved depends on the information you shared with them and whether the footage still exists in the system. All of these are things you must keep in mind.