Many retailers appear unaware that they must register with the Data Protection Registar if they have security cameras in their shop. The Data Protection Act 1998 became law on March 1 last year but only stores with sophisticated, digital cameras had to register then. If you had the kind that required rewinding and fast-forwarded by hand, you were exempt. However, from October 24 this year, "manual" data collection on people will also be covered by the Act and retailers with simple security cameras will lose that loophole. Registration will cost you £35 a year -- and the good news is that, if you have, say, three shops then you will only need to register once. The unfair news is that Sainsbury, Tesco and and other multiples only have to register once as well. That makes me want to jump on my red tape soapbox again ­ especially as this week I again heard a minister say that recent legislation hasn't placed an unfair burden on independent businesses. You will also need to put up a public notice to the effect that cameras are in operation in your store. The sign should state the reason for a CCTV and name the owner with contact details. Customers must be allowed access to stored data images of themselves but you will be able to charge a fee for this. While on the subject, I urge you to make sure you use good quality tapes in your cameras. Those fuzzy images are no help to anyone when it comes to catching criminals. Tapes should be replaced annually or after no more than 50 usages in a real time recorder, or 12 in a time lapse unit. For those of you considering leasing equipment for the first time, do please look very closely at the contract. Some of them tie you in for literally thousands of pounds and what looks like get-out clauses are actually "gotchas" in the sense that there is no getting out without paying for the whole seven years. This is particularly important if you are thinking of leaving the business or selling it to someone who does not want the system (you could make it a condition of the purchase of course so long as your business is desirable enough). All told, it seems a sorry situation that retailers must keep such a watching eye on their premises and be penalised for so doing. By the way, you should also train any staff you have so that they understand their responsibilities in regard to the latest legislation, in other words that the information is relevant, accurate, kept up-to-date, kept secure and obtained fairly. For further information ring the Data Protection Registar on 01625 545745. {{GROCER CLUB }}