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Human Resources Office

Department of Engineering

Studying at Cambridge


Recording People

Modern technology makes it easy to record people on audio, movie and image files, but it is also easy to make a mistake in doing so which causes offence, an invasion of privacy, a breach of copyright or other difficulties with the possibility of disciplinary or even legal repercussions. The following offers some basic information to help staff and students in the Department find a safe passage through this potential minefield.

Before presenting authoritative sources of detailed guidance, let us start with some basic common sense:

  • the potential for falling into difficulties is reduced if you:
    • make the intention to record clear to all subjects of the planned recording before starting
    • openly explain the reason for making the recording and how it will be used, stored and distributed
    • answer any questions that arise
    • gain the subjects' informed consent before proceeding
  • the potential for difficulties arising is high if you make a covert recording

  • the potential for creating serious problems is pretty much guaranteed if you continue to make a recording after a subject refuses consent or it has been stated in a meeting/event that no recordings may be made

  • the recording of children or vulnerable adults demands extra attention to policy and procedures.

It follows, therefore, that staff and students should not make covert recordings or record without the consent of the subject without taking further, specific advice. General advice on how to make a recording that is compliant with the law and policies of the University is available from the sites listed below. If these do not answer your questions or if you are unable to obtain the informed consent of the subject or if you are planning to record children or vulnerable adults you must take further, specific advice. In the first instance, please contact

The authoritative source of detailed guidance is provided by the University’s Legal Services Office at

The authoritative source of detailed guidance on information compliance is provided centrally at with local advice available at

If the recording is being made for research purposes, then research ethics apply. The local procedures are presented at

For local guidance on managing film crews see

Please note that the Teaching Office is currently working with University Information Services (UIS) and the Centre for Teaching and Learning to establish specific staff and student guidelines for the Lecture Capture system. The Teaching Office can be contacted for the latest information at

Recordings are made using our strictly regulated network of CCTV security cameras. The code of practice under which the network operates can be found at Enquiries relating to security should go to

If you are the subject of a recording and wish to raise concerns then contact


Philip Guildford