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Video/visual surveillance records (GDA8)

This general retention and disposal authority covers video/visual surveillance records created by NSW public offices

Foreword | Authorisation | 1. Introduction | 2. Guidelines for use | 3. General disposal authority: video/visual surveillance records

Foreword

The General disposal authority: video/visual surveillance records (GDA 8) is the official authority for the disposal of video/visual surveillance records created by New South Wales public offices.

This authority is part of a series of general retention and disposal authorities authorised and issued by the State Records Authority of New South Wales ('State Records'), in accordance with provisions for the protection of State records in the State Records Act 1998 (NSW). The Act states that records are not to be disposed of without the consent of State Records unless the action of disposal is positively required by law, or takes place in accordance with a normal administrative practice (NAP) of which State Records does not disapprove. Advice on the State Records Act can be obtained from State Records.

This authority forms part of State Records' framework of rules and guidance on records management for New South Wales public offices, a framework which is designed to assist in the proper creation, management, protection and ultimate disposal of the records generated in the course of everyday business. Other general retention and disposal authorities issued by State Records include:

Authorisation

GDA No GDA 8
Public office All public offices as defined by the State Records Act 1998
Scope This disposal authority covers general video/surveillance records created by public offices.
Authority This Disposal Authority is issued under Section 21 (2)(c) of the State Records Act 1998. It has been approved by the Board of the State Records Authority in accordance with Section 21(3) of the State Records Act 1998.
Authorised David Roberts
Director
State Records Authority of New South Wales
13 October 1999

1. Introduction

1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this general retention and disposal authority is to provide for the authorised disposal of video/visual surveillance records created by public offices operating within New South Wales. The authority authorises the destruction of video/visual surveillance recordings that are not of evidentiary value and are not required as part of an investigation or criminal or court proceedings. Where recordings become part of the evidential record of an investigation or criminal or court proceedings, the authority specifies that these records should be disposed of in accordance with the requirements for that class of record.

1.2 Scope

This general retention and disposal authority applies to all public offices as defined in the State Records Act and to those State records created for the period 1990 onwards which fall into the classes of records described in Section 3. The authority is intended to cover general video/visual surveillance records common to most public offices relating to the functions of crime prevention, personnel security and property management. This authority does not apply to the functional records of those public offices whose core functions involve surveillance for crime prevention, investigation purposes or the management of those in prison or those in detention.

1.3 Authority

This authority for the disposal of State records has been approved by State Records and may be implemented without the necessity of further reference to State Records. Nevertheless, persons using the general retention and disposal authority should apply it with caution, bearing in mind that the authorisations for disposal are given in terms of the State Records Act only, and that it remains incumbent upon them not to dispose of records in contravention of their organisation's legal responsibilities or interests.

This general retention and disposal authority will remain in force until it is superseded by a new authority or it is withdrawn from use by State Records.

1.4 Video/visual surveillance records

Video/visual surveillance generally involves the use of photographic, video or electronic recording equipment for the surveillance or monitoring of a particular scene, location or activity. Examples of its use include the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) operations for the monitoring of shopping malls and pedestrian zones, bus and railway stations, property and office foyers or workplace areas. Visual surveillance activities are generally carried out for the purposes of crime prevention/detection, public safety, traffic control or to enhance the protection and security of personnel or property. When the recordings do provide evidence of an activity or action having taken place they may be used as a record of evidence in investigative, criminal or court proceedings.

Surveillance may be overt or covert. Overt visual surveillance generally involves the use of unconcealed surveillance equipment, often signposted to draw attention to the fact that an individual is under observation. Covert visual surveillance involves the use of hidden or concealed recording equipment without agreement or notification of the fact that an individual's activities are being recorded. The conduct of covert visual surveillance in the workplace is subject to the provisions of the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 (NSW).

1.5 Definitions

Camera surveillance
Camera surveillance is surveillance by means of a camera that monitors or records visual images of activities on premises or in any other place. (Workplace Surveillance Act 2005)
Disposal
A range of processes associated with implementing appraisal decisions. These include retention, deletion or destruction of records in or from recordkeeping systems. They may also include the migration or transmission of records between recordkeeping systems, and the transfer of custody or ownership of records. (Australian Standard AS4390 - 1996, Records Management, Part 1, General, Clause 4).
Disposal action
The disposal action column of a disposal authority generally advises the minimum retention period after an identified 'trigger' for each record series or disposal class. Records may be identified as required as State archives or may be identified as being authorised for destruction at the end of the retention period.
Disposal authority
A tool which provides for the authorised destruction or other disposal of State records under the terms of the State Records Act.
Disposal classes
Classes of records performing or recording similar activities and therefore having the same retention period and disposal action. (Australian Standard AS4390 - 1996, Records Management, Part 1, General, Clause 4.11)
Electronic records
Records communicated and maintained by means of electronic equipment.
Records
Records are defined in s.3(1) of the Act as, 'any document or other source of information compiled, recorded or stored in written form or on film, or by electronic process, or in any other manner or by any other means'.
Retention periods
A disposal authority generally specifies retention periods, that is, how long State records are to be retained in a public office's premises or offsite storage, before being destroyed or transferred as State archives.
Retention periods set down in this authority are minimum periods only and a public office may keep records for a longer period if necessary. However, a public office must obtain specific authorisation from State Records to dispose of records earlier than the minimum retention period. Reasons for longer retention can include legal requirements, administrative need, and government directives. A public office must not dispose of any records where the public office is aware of possible legal action for which the records may be required as evidence.
State archives
State archive means a State record that the State Records Authority of New South Wales has control of under the State Records Act.
State records
State record means any record made and kept, or received and kept, by any person in the course of the exercise of official functions in a public office, or for any purpose of a public office, or for the use of a public office. (State Records Act, 1998)

2. Guidelines for use

2.1 Coverage of authority

This general retention and disposal authority relates to general video/visual surveillance recordings (including video/moving images with an audio component) created and maintained by public offices for the purposes of crime prevention, personnel security and property management.

2.2 Retention periods

This general retention and disposal authority does not attempt to set specific minimum retention periods for these records. Public offices will need to determine appropriate retention periods in accordance with requirements established by legislation, operational requirements and current guidelines or codes of practice.

Overt video/visual surveillance is carried out by a number of public offices for the purposes of crime prevention, personnel security and property management. Overt video/visual surveillance generally involves the use of unconcealed surveillance equipment, often signposted to draw to the attention of the individual the fact that he or she is under observation. It is understood that there are a range of practices regarding retention periods for these records varying from 24 hours to 30 days. Covert surveillance in the workplace is regulated by the Workplace Surveillance Act. The Act establishes specific recordkeeping and retention requirements for video/visual surveillance records subject to a covert surveillance authority.

Video/visual surveillance recordings tend to accumulate in large quantities if not properly managed. Management of recordings generally involves recycling, that is the recordings are taped over. The physical recording medium itself, that is the film or videotape, should also be appropriately disposed of when its operational shelf life has been reached. The determination of appropriate retention periods will be influenced by the purpose of the surveillance activity, operational requirements, resource restrictions and ease of management.

Recordings required for evidentiary purposes that become part of the records of an investigation or criminal or court proceedings are not authorised for destruction under this authority but should be managed and disposed of in accordance with the requirements for that class of record.

2.2.1 Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act

The Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) introduces a set of privacy standards for the NSW public sector. The standards regulate the way public sector agencies deal with personal information. The information protection principles in the Act cover matters such as the collection, retention, storage, use and disclosure of personal information. The Act defines personal information as 'information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database and whether or not recorded in a material form) about an individual whose identity is apparent or can reasonably be ascertained from the information or opinion.' Principle 12 of the Act specifically relates to the retention and security of personal information and requires a public sector agency that holds personal information to ensure 'that the information is kept for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the information may lawfully be used'. Further information can be obtained from Privacy NSW (telephone 02 8019 1600 or email privacy_nsw@agd.nsw.gov.au).

2.2.2 Workplace Surveillance Act

The Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 and the Workplace Surveillance Regulation 2005 regulate surveillance of employees at work, including camera surveillance. The Act establishes specific recordkeeping and retention requirements for surveillance records subject to a covert surveillance authority issued under the Act. Section 29(2)(c) requires that within 3 months of the expiry of an authority to conduct covert surveillance within the workplace, all parts of the surveillance records made as a consequence of the surveillance that are not required for evidentiary purposes must be erased or destroyed.

2.2.3 Guidance

The NSW Attorney General's Department has produced guidance entitled A short guide to the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005, September 2005.

2.2.4 Records required as evidence

If a recording is incorporated into the records of an investigation or litigation the recording should be disposed of as for related case records (refer to the General retention and disposal authority: administrative records under the function/activity GOVERNMENT RELATIONS - Inquiries or LEGAL SERVICES - Litigation for guidance regarding retention periods). Recorded material transferred to the NSW Police Service for the purposes of investigation or criminal proceedings is incorporated into that Department's records and disposed of in accordance with the requirements applicable to that class of record in the functional disposal authorities for the NSW Police Service. Any recordings forming part of the evidentiary record of court proceedings should also be disposed of in accordance with the requirements applicable to that class of record.

A public office must not dispose of any records where the public office is aware of possible legal action where the records may be required as evidence.

2.3 Destruction of records

When the appropriate retention period has been determined arrangements for the destruction of the records should be made. It is the responsibility of each public office to ensure that its records are destroyed in a confidential and appropriate manner. For more information regarding the appropriate destruction of State records see State Records' guideline Destruction of records (reprinted 2010), which is part of the Government Recordkeeping Manual.

2.4 Assistance in using the general retention and disposal authority

Public offices requiring any assistance in the interpretation or implementation of this authority are encouraged to contact State Records.

3. General disposal authority: video/visual surveillance records

No Function/Activity Description Action
1.0.0 CRIME PREVENTION The function of instituting measures for the prevention of crime including raising community awareness and targeting key areas for surveillance activities. May include monitoring employees in the workplace for the purposes of crime prevention/ detection. [1]

(This excludes records created and/or maintained by public offices where crime prevention and investigation are core functions eg NSW Police Service, Department of Corrective Services.)
1.1.0 Surveillance The activity of conducting surveillance of targeted high risk areas for criminal activity as part of a program of crime prevention.
1.1.1 Video/visual surveillance recordings. Includes video [2], photographs, digital images and recorded materials. Retain in accordance with agency requirements [3], then destroy.
1.1.2 Video/visual surveillance recordings required for evidentiary purposes as part of a criminal or specific investigation or court proceeding. If recordings become part of another record, such as an investigation, dispose of in accordance with requirements for that class of records.
2.0.0 PERSONNEL The function of managing all employees in the organisation. (Keyword AAA)
2.1.0 Security The activities associated with measures taken to protect people, premises, equipment or information from accidental or intentional damage or from unauthorised access. (Keyword AAA)
2.1.1 Video/visual surveillance recordings. Includes video [4], photographs, digital images and recorded materials. Retain in accordance with agency requirements [5], then destroy.
2.1.2 Video/visual surveillance recordings required as part of a criminal or specific investigation or court proceeding. If recordings become part of another record, such as an investigation, dispose of in accordance with requirements for that class of records.
3.0.0 PROPERTY MANAGEMENT The function of managing land and working, storage or living space within premises, and of acquiring, constructing, fitting-out, managing, maintaining, protecting and disposing of property. Includes buildings and land allotments owned, rented or leased by the organisation, such as office blocks, repositories, and workshops. (Keyword AAA)
3.1.0 Security The activities associated with measures taken to protect people, premises, equipment or information from accidental or intentional damage or from unauthorised access. (Keyword AAA)

(This excludes records maintained by public offices where the provision of security is linked to core functions eg NSW Police Service, Department of Corrective Services.)

For other records relating to security arrangements see General retention and disposal authority: administrative records, PROPERTY MANAGEMENT - Security
3.1.1 Video/visual surveillance recordings. Includes video [6], photographs, digital images and recorded materials. Retain in accordance with agency requirements [7], then destroy.
3.1.2 Video/visual surveillance recordings required as part of a criminal or specific investigation or court proceeding. If recordings become part of another record, such as an investigation, dispose of in accordance with requirements for that class of records.

Note:

This general retention and disposal authority does not attempt to set specific minimum retention periods for these records. Agencies will need to determine appropriate retention periods in accordance with requirements established by legislation, agency requirements and current guidelines or codes of practice.

Any records providing evidence of public office compliance with statutory or administrative requirements must be kept for as long as the public office has to account for its actions. A public office must not dispose of any records where the public office is aware of possible legal action where the records may be required as evidence.

For further guidance in determining appropriate retention periods see 2. Guidelines for use above.


[1] This activity is regulated by the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005

[2] Includes video/moving images with an audio component.

[3] Each agency will need to determine appropriate retention periods for these records. For further guidance in determining appropriate retention periods see 2. Guidelines for use.

[4] Includes video/moving images with an audio component.

[5] Each agency will need to determine appropriate retention periods for these records. For further guidance in determining appropriate retention periods see 2. Guidelines for use.

[6] Includes video/moving images with audio component.

[7] Each agency will need to determine appropriate retention periods for these records. For further guidance in determining appropriate retention periods see 2. Guidelines for use.

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of New South Wales, 1999.
This work may be freely reproduced and distributed for most purposes, however some restrictions apply. See our copyright notice or contact us.
First published 1999/ Revised 2008 (references to the General retention and disposal authority: administrative records only)/ Revised 2009 (references to the General disposal authority: financial and accounting records only).
Reviewed October 2010 (no changes made).

ISBN 0-7313-9501-8