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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Is it illegal to place a listening or other surveillance device

Customer Question

Is it illegal to place a listening or other surveillance device (e.g. camera) outside someone's house?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Suppose someone were to place a listening device outside your home to eavesdrop conversations. Would that be illegal?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
A person acting in what capacity?

For what purpose?

In what circumstance?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The capacity would be as a private individual. Purpose would be to collect evidence for a campaign of denigration. Circumstance: don't quite understand the term.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

It might amount to harassment but there are very few other restrictions.

I'm afraid that private individuals are free to film others in law for the most part. The agents of the state need to get lots of authorities to conduct surveilance upon individuals but there are fewer restrictions upon individuals.

If this person has not entered private property upon which he is not permitted to be then there are no offences arising.

If the surveilance is prolonged and obtrusive then there might be an argument that it amounts to harassment though if the other person has no good reason to be behaving in this way. In fairness, journalists harass all the time but they would argue there is good reason to do so as there is public interest in their publications.

It might be though that if evidence is gathered by means of improper conduct then it may be excluded at court. S78 PACE does allow for the exclusion of evidence obtained unfairly but it is a high test and you should be aware of that.

Sorry if thats bad news.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks. At least now we know we are totally defenceless at law and can prepare ourselves for the worst.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Preparing for the worst is always the best idea with conflict anyway.

Sometimes the police will tell people to move CCTV cameras though although I'm never really sure what they plan to do if they do not.

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