New rules for a million prying eyes

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GUIDELINES ARE being drawn up to safeguard public privacy following the rapid growth in the use of closed circuit television cameras.

It is estimated that about a million cameras are now in operation around the country, covering streets, shops, banks and even restaurants. The British Standards Institute said regulation had failed to keep up,leaving few restrictions on what use could be made of material gathered for security purposes.

In one case, a man who tried to commit suicide took his case to the European Court of Human Rights after footage of his attempt were broadcast on television.

The draft guidelines came after concern from civil rights groups, and over issues such as privacy and disclosure of material to the media and police.

Operators will be warned not to focus high-power lenses installed to cover public places - some of which can read a newspaper headline from 100 yards away - to zoom in on private places such as houses lining a road.