Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is vital in the prevention and detection of crime and antisocial behaviour within town centres. It provides residents and businesses with protection, helping us to make West Suffolk a safer place in which to live, work, socialise and visit. This in turn helps the district to grow and potentially welcome more visitors and residents into the towns.

CCTV was first introduced in Bury St Edmunds in April 1995. We operate a purpose built control room and monitor more than 600 cameras in nine different towns across West Suffolk. The control room is in constant communication with local businesses and Suffolk Constabulary in an effort to reduce and prevent crime within the towns. The control room is able to direct police officers to a potential incident whilst broadcasting live images to local police stations and police HQ to provide an effective and supportive service to the police which ultimately serves the public by reducing crime within the area.

Within the control room, there are also links to the town centre retail premises, public houses and local town pastors through a Shopsafe scheme which allows constant radio communication in delivering an effective service to reduce crime and disorder and provide assistance to vulnerable individuals.


Our CCTV operators are vetted at NPPV2 level (Non Police Personnel Vetting) to operate the police airwaves.

All operators additionally must qualify and be in possession at all times of their SIA Licences which allow them to operate a CCTV camera for public space surveillance (PSS). The training standards for these licences are set and governed by the Security Industry Authority who are the issuing authority of all CCTV operator licences.

Purpose of CCTV

All CCTV systems are registered with the Information Commissioner. Their purpose can be broadly described under two main areas:

Primary purpose

  • to assist in the prevention and detection of crime
  • to assist in the promotion of community safety and to reduce antisocial behaviour.

Secondary purpose

  • to assist the client (system owner) in providing any of its prosecuting or contracted services
  • to assist in the management of the town - this includes monitoring safety or operationally critical activities on a particular site
  • to assist in the protection of assets.

Management of CCTV records

All video data is recorded onto digital hard drives and kept for a maximum of 31 days, which is then automatically overwritten. During this time period, the police or other statutory prosecuting or investigative agencies may apply for access to these images for investigatory purposes.

Still images obtained from the recorded data are only produced to help identify persons or property for specific incidents, or other permitted data uses, and are subject to the same security of data and destruction rules when no longer required by the data requester as recorded video data.

Camera locations

Currently, the control room monitors nine towns 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A large percentage of the cameras monitored by our control room are PTZ cameras and can be controlled by the operator through the use of a joystick and keypad. If cameras are not PTZ, they will be static and fixed in a position where there are high levels of crime or positioned for the protection of assets.

Areas covered by West Suffolk Council control room include:

  • Bury St Edmunds
  • Haverhill
  • Newmarket
  • Mildenhall
  • Brandon
  • Red Lodge
  • Stowmarket
  • Sudbury
  • Hadleigh

We also own and operate other CCTV systems which are not currently monitored by the control room. In the event of queries for the following sites, please contact West Suffolk Waste Services.

Statistics reports

Code of practice

In 2013, a new Surveillance Camera Code of Practice was published by the Home Office. This aims to create a more transparent, proportionate and accountable CCTV system.

To assist organisations in achieving the aims set out by the camera code of practice, the Home Office also published Code of Practice - Steps to complying with the 12 principles. If followed correctly, these principles will protect the public as well as uphold civil liberties.

We work to comply with these practices and have conducted privacy impact assessments to outline precisely what our system entails and what it is being used for.

This is to allow transparency, proportionality and accountability as outlined in the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.

Our self assessment tools also provide transparency and have been published below.

Surveillance Camera Commission Self-Assessment Tool

Subject access request

Under data protection law, you have a right to see CCTV pictures if you are the subject.

You can make a request to have a copy of CCTV of your own images, either by making a request to the council verbally, by email or letter or complete the online Data Subject Access Request form and send it to the Data Protection Officer at West Suffolk Council.

When using either format you must:

  • provide evidence of your identity. (Details of the documents required can be found below).
  • be clear about the exact time, date and location (preferably within one hour).

Please note:

  • footage is only guaranteed to be retained for 31 days from the date it was captured. For example, if footage was captured on 10 June it would be overwritten by our system on 10 July
  • we are unable to release footage to you if the incident is being investigated by the Police
  • if you have been the victim of a crime or a crime has been committed, you should report it to the police. Arrangements are in place for CCTV to be accessed by the police if it is necessary during a criminal investigation
  • we are unable to release footage which identifies a third party.

What happens next?

If you have completed the online form, you will receive an email notifying you that the form has been received. We must respond to you within one month, once we have checked your identity. If we feel the request is complex, we may ask for an extension of this period.

Can I get a copy of the recording?

You can only get a copy of the recording if the data protection officer is satisfied that it will not become part of a live criminal investigation or civil proceedings.

Damage to vehicles

We are not able to release or show you footage of damage being caused to your vehicle if it would identify a third party or their vehicle. In this situation, we would recommend that you contact your insurance company or, in more serious cases, the Police who may be able to view any footage we hold as part of their investigation. Please note, as above, footage is only stored for a maximum of 31 days. It will only be downloaded from the system on request from your insurer if received within 31 days of the reported incident.

Identification documents

To help establish your identity you must supply the following documents:

  • one of the following (copies or photo of the page containing your likeness):
    • valid photo driving licence
    • full valid current passport
    • recent passport sized photograph
  • or two of the following:
  • birth certificate or adoption certificate
  • valid driving licence
  • utility bill (gas, electricity, water, or telephone) in the applicants name for the last quarter
  • medical card
  • bank, building society or credit card statement in the applicants name for the last quarter
  • Council Tax bill or demand in the applicants name for the last quarter

Please note: at least one document must show your current address and at least one must show your date of birth. Failure to provide this documentation may delay your application.