Posted August 16, 2011 by

Outdoor Surveillance CameraCovert Cameras in the workplace – this is one of those issues where you need to know what you are doing. And you also need to have the right answers for your staff when you install any kind listening or visual recording device like a camera. It is also important for you to know what kind of camera to install and how and where to install it in order to fulfill legal requirements of evidence. Our expert investigators at Justicia have put together a Q&A for you about Covert Cameras in the Workplace:

Q. Can I install a covert camera without notifying my staff?

A. Yes, the principles in play here are similar to those pertaining to the use of bugging devices.  i.e. The Constitution upholds the individual’s right to privacy, but if you are the owner or manager of a business and have reasonable grounds to believe that fraud or theft is taking place at your place of business, and that staff, suppliers or customers could be involved, you are entitled to take reasonable steps to protect your assets.

Q. Can the footage be used as evidence?

A. Yes,  provided that it can be proved that the cameras were placed to monitor a suspected crime area and not a specific individual.

Q. In what area can I place covert cameras?

A. You may not place them inside change rooms, toilet cubicles, bedrooms etc.

Q. Do I have to tell my staff when I intend fitting covert cameras?

A. No, it defeats the object.  (See Q.1 Provided that it can be proved that the cameras were placed to monitor a suspected crime are and not a specific individual?

Q. Must I get permission from or consult with the union before fitting covert cameras?

A. No, (see Q.1 above).  The principles in play here are similar to those pertaining to the use of bugging devices.  i.e. The Constitution upholds the individual’s right to privacy, but if you are the owner or manager of a business and have reasonable grounds to believe that fraud or theft is taking place at your place of business, and that staff, suppliers or customers could be involved, you are entitled to take reasonable steps to protect your assets.

Q. Can I use footage thus obtained in an internal hearing/CCMA?

A. Yes, as long as the footage has date, time stamp and is not tampered with or edited in any way.  (Also see Q.2) provided that it can be proved that the cameras were placed to monitor a suspected crime area and not a specific individual.

Q. Do I have to put up signage if I intend fitting covert cameras?

A. No, it defeats the object.  (See Q.1 provided that it can be proved that the cameras were placed to monitor a suspected crime area and not a specific individual.)

Q. How long can the recorder record for?

A. The following aspects play a crucial roll: 1. Is it a PC based or embedded system? 2. Depending on the HDD space that is available on both these systems?  The smaller the HDD, the less recording time with the following aspects taken into accounts: 2.1 How many cameras are connected to the system? 2.2 What type of compression are you using to record? 2.3 What is the frame rate that you have set the recorder to record?  The higher the frame rate, the more space you see.  (Better quality) the lower the frame rate, the lower the quality (picture and motion) you might then loose crucial motion and not see what you want to record. 2.4 How much motions will there be on the view?  24 hr operation? 2.5 Is there audio connected to the cameras?

Q. Can the camera operate on a motion sensor which will activate the camera when there is movement, so that I don’t have to watch hours of footage at a time?

A. Yes, most recording cards are embedded systems com with the necessary software.  (Motion activated).

Q. Can a hidden camera read what amount is being rung up by a teller or actually placed in the till?

A. Yes, refer point of sale software.  This software allows you to see exactly that.  You have to take the following into consideration:  Is the POS compatible with the till?  Some systems only work with certain tills.  How much money actually goes into the till?  Now that can only be determined by the Z-reading at cash up.  Should there be shortages or overages, then POS comes into work with the reviews.

Q. How small is the smallest camera?

A. Minute, but it is not always the camera, depending on the application.  The lens plays a big roll.  What do you want to see?  Black/ White/ Colour?  How many TVL TV lines?  The smaller the TVL, the poorer the quality.  And visa versa.

Q. How long will the installation take?

A.  This depends on how long is the cable run?  What type of cameras is being installed?  Covert on static?  PTZ?  Pan tilt zoom.  How many cameras?  The shorter the cable run, i.e. under 300 meters, the less equipment.  Over 300 meters, then different cable is needed with twisted pair transceivers.  How many installers?  Man power available?  You also need to take into consideration the following:  obstacles i.e. double walls, electrical connections, false ceilings, ceiling panels, trunking, conduit, routes, trenching, etc. For professional advice on the use of Covert Cameras, contact Justicia Investigations.