A gavel and a thick book on a table in front of a Union Jack flag.

Sales of hidden spy cameras are on the rise, whether for safety, peace of mind, or to keep an eye on young children. Subsequently, more and more people are installing hidden cameras in their homes. Although all aforementioned reasons are completely valid, the legalities and ethical restrictions of spy cameras need to be deliberated; where the cameras are placed, why they are placed and how the footage is used are all important considerations that need to be addressed before taking the plunge. So before investing in a camera, discover the ethics and legalities of using hidden spy cameras!

Reasons to use a Spy Camera

To ensure that a spy camera is ethically valid in your home, you first need to decide your reasons for wanting it. Some valid reasons for many homeowners are safety and security; many people are beginning to install covert cameras to catch a potential burglar in the act and hence be able to identify him easily. Another popular use for a hidden camera is a so-called Nanny Cam; when leaving children in the care of unfamiliar babysitters or childminders, many parents long for peace of mind and installing a nanny cam provides exactly that.

This way, they can go to work/take extended trips away without constantly worrying about their children's well-being. The nanny cam is also a way for parents to monitor whether their child is being mistreated; if something were to happen, the parents would have evidence and could stop the maltreatment immediately. Similarly, placing a hidden camera in the room of elderly parents/grandparents who are receiving care puts the mind of their children at ease, allowing them to monitor their relative's well-being closely.

With numerous stories in the news reporting poor elderly care, it's no wonder that more people are taking precautions. Furthermore, people may wish to install cameras to ensure that house staff like cleaners/au-pairs aren't engaging in any illegal behaviour (stealing/snooping through mail etc.), with grounds to dismiss if caught in the act.


As aforesaid, many homeowners wish to install cameras for the very valid reasons above, but they are unsure of the legal issues associated with doing so. The law isn't completely clear-cut regarding issues such as filming. Still, it is widely understood that as long as you are filming without audio and only in places with no 'expectation of privacy' (explained in further detail below), installing a hidden camera in your home is perfectly legal within the guidelines provided.

Reasonable expectation of privacy

By law, some places within a home are out of bounds for hidden cameras; rooms, where privacy is expected include (but are not limited to) bedrooms, bathrooms and toilets. Installing a hidden camera in a kitchen, dining room, living room, playroom or conservatory is generally considered legally acceptable, as this isn't seen to be violating anyones privacy, in the same way placing a camera in a bathroom or private bedroom would be; this is not only seen as legally inappropriate but also unethical. Furthermore, if you have live-in employees such as cleaners or nannies, placing a hidden camera in their private bedroom would also be seen as violating their privacy.

Audio recording

To reiterate, audio recording is worlds apart from video recording, and the rules and legal requirements do not apply. When choosing a hidden camera for your home, you should aim for one without an audio recording function, as recording someone's voice or conversation without their consent is an issue of legality.


A spy camera is a great investment for a parent wanting peace of mind, children seeking to or a homeowner wanting extra safety and security for their home. As long as the reasonable expectation of privacy, as explained above, is met and the cameras only record visual footage and no audio. There shouldn't be any legal or ethical issues to contend with.