Horrifically nosey neighbours must pay up £17,000

Neighbours must pay for CCTV intrusion. What are your rights if your neighbours install a camera?

Updated: 
Tony Woolley  with some of his documents showing the security/surveillance cameras. See Centre Press story CPWATCH; A family were subjected to years of harassing surveillance by neighbours who snooped on them by directing cameras and listening devices at their home. Cameras and microphones were installed by owners of a B&B below Tony Woolley’s Murrayfield home after a row over plans to turn the guesthouse into a bail hostel. Tony and wife Debbie were awarded £17,000 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court

Debbie and Tony Woolley from Corstorphine in Edinburgh have been awarded £17,000 by a court, after suffering at the hands of what could be the nosiest neighbours in the country.

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Nahid and Sohail Akram, who own the B&B downstairs, installed CCTV, filming everyone approaching the property, plus a separate camera filming everything that happened in the Woolley's private garden. They also installed audio recording equipment directly below the couple's windows.

A report in The Herald explained that equipment was installed after the couple and their neighbours had a disagreement. The Akrams, who own the property downstairs but live elsewhere in Edinburgh, planned to turn their B&B into a bail hostel. The Woolleys opposed the application, which was subsequently turned down, but relations had soured between the neighbours.

The Woolley's home in the Murrayfield area of Edinburgh.  See Centre Press story CPWATCH; A family were subjected to years of harassing surveillance by neighbours who snooped on them by directing cameras and listening devices at their home. Cameras and microphones were installed by owners of a B&B below Tony Woolley’s Murrayfield home after a row over plans to turn the guesthouse into a bail hostel. Tony and wife Debbie were awarded £17,000 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court

CCTV

Both couples then installed CCTV cameras, but the Akrams went to quite extreme lengths. Tony (46) told the Daily Mail that they were forced to sit round the side of the house to avoid being filmed, but even then they couldn't speak because they knew their conversations would be recorded. He said his wife (50) and daughter had been petrified.

In the end, they took the Akrams to court, spending £30,000 in the process, but winning £17,000 in compensation. The Sheriff said the cameras were 'intrusive, excessive and unjustified', and had been deliberately set to cover the Woolley's private property.

CCTV rights

Clearly this is an extreme case, but CCTV issues have increasingly come up between neighbours, ever since the price of systems fell low enough for them to become commonplace. The government was concerned enough about the potential for neighbourly disputes that it issued a paper to clarify the situation last January.

The basic rule is that if a neighbour's CCTV only covers their own property, they can record what they like. Before 2014, the courts took the view that if they record something beyond their boundary in order to protect their home, they can still record what they like. However, a European Court judgement in 2014 changed all that.

Now they may still be able to record footage - assuming it is for the security of their home and family - but they have to comply with the Data Protection Act. This means ensuring that recording is not intrusive, that it is stored and used correctly, and they must pay an annual fee as a data controller.

They also have to take care that their recording does not constitute harassment - and the courts have established that menacing use of CCTV falls into this category. In 2008 the Home Office said: "Cameras being deliberately trained on areas outside an individual's property, could amount to harassment and potentially give rise to prosecution under the Public Order Act of Protection from Harassment Act."

Nightmare neighbours

Nightmare neighbours