A petition that aimed to force parliament to debate the use of CCTV in all care homes has failed to attract enough signatures to trigger a motion.
The Government has committed to debating proposals that garner over 100,000 signatures on its online portal, but the motion to install CCTV cameras in all care homes to protect the vulnerable people closed with 12,896 signatures within the six months it was live.
The Department of Health did issue a response to the petition, which reads:
“The Government does not object to the use of CCTV cameras in care homes on a case by case basis. Care home owners should consult with and seek the consent of residents and their families on their use.
“The abuse or neglect of vulnerable people is deplorable. The Government has strengthened the powers of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to prosecute providers for unacceptable care, including abuse.
“The Government recognises that cases of abuse and neglect have been exposed as the result of hidden cameras. We acknowledge that there are occasions when it may be appropriate for their use to be considered.
“Closed circuit television (CCTV) should not be regarded as a substitute for proper recruitment procedures, training, management and support of care staff, or for ensuring that numbers of staff on duty are sufficient to meet the needs of users of services.
“It is a legal requirement that care providers must ensure that the safety, welfare, privacy and dignity of service users at all times. The Government considers that the widespread introduction of CCTV into care homes would raise important concerns about residents’ privacy, as well as practicality.
“The use of CCTV and other forms of covert surveillance should not be routine, but should be considered on a case by case basis. The Government does not object to the use of CCTV in individual care homes or by the families of residents, provided it is done in consultation with and with the permission of those residents and their families.
“The CQC has published guidance for care homes and the families of residents on the issues that should be taken into account when deciding whether or not to use CCTV or other forms of covert surveillance. The guidance is available on CQC’s website athttp://www.cqc.org.uk/content/using-surveillance-information-service-providers.
“Care provision is often personal, even intimate in nature. Filming or recording the more than 400,000 people who live in care and nursing homes whilst they are receiving personal care – being bathed, helped to dress and eat, etc. – would represent a major intrusion into their privacy. For the great majority, whose care is good, such an intrusion could not be justified.
“Care providers and members of the public, including care service users and their families, are free to decide whether or not to employ CCTV or covert monitoring. However, they should be aware of requirements, including legal protections, around ensuring the privacy and dignity of those who are being filmed/observed.”