A cctv camera mounted to a wall

How to Get CCTV Footage of a Car Accident

November 10, 2023

Car accidents can be traumatic events, not just physically but financially. While all drivers in the UK are required to have valid car insurance, making a successful claim will often depend on building a convincing enough case to prove that you weren’t at fault for the collision.

This is where CCTV footage comes in handy: CCTV footage can help by offering an unbiased account of the events leading up to the collision. If you're wondering how to get CCTV footage of a car accident, this guide will take you through the necessary steps on where to find it and how to obtain it. Let’s dive in.

Identify Potential CCTV Sources

Determine Likely Locations

The first step in retrieving CCTV footage is to identify potential camera locations that may have captured the incident. Consider the direction of travel, nearby junctions, intersections, and main roads; remember that cameras are often strategically placed at high-traffic areas, making these spots more likely to have a recording of the accident. If you have a courtesy car, you can also retrace your steps in the same area more easily than on foot.

Contact Nearby Businesses and Authorities

Businesses situated near the accident scene, especially retail shops, banks, and petrol stations, typically have CCTV systems. Approach the management or the security personnel of these establishments to inquire about possible footage, and explain why you need it. Similarly, local councils and other governmental bodies might have cameras placed on streets or at traffic signals, so reaching out to them could yield fruitful results.

Public and Private CCTV Systems

It's essential to understand the difference between public and private CCTV systems: while public systems, such as those maintained by local councils, generally cover public spaces like roads and parks, private systems, installed by businesses or homeowners, monitor specific private properties. The procedures for accessing footage from these two systems might differ, with private entities potentially having stricter policies or reservations about sharing their footage.

Gathering Information

Date and Time Details

Before you approach anyone for CCTV footage, make sure you have the exact date and time of the incident. This will not only make the retrieval process more manageable for them, but will also ensure that you're viewing the relevant footage. Remember, many CCTV systems overwrite older data, so it's crucial to act swiftly.

Specific Location Description

Being able to pinpoint the precise location of the accident can help in narrowing down potential camera sources - whether it's a particular landmark, shop, junction, or street name, every detail can assist in tracking down relevant footage.

A cctv camera attached to a wall

Legal Considerations

Before going off on a hunt for CCTV footage, here are some important points to remember when it comes to legality, privacy, and obtaining footage:

Data Protection and Privacy

CCTV footage, especially from private entities, is subject to data protection laws, and these laws ensure that individuals' privacy rights are not violated. Before any footage can be handed over, identifying features of unrelated parties might need to be blurred or masked.

Requesting Footage

Under the Data Protection Act, individuals have the right to request CCTV footage of themselves, however, you may need to submit a formal application - often referred to as a 'subject access request' - to the organisation holding the footage. A fee might be associated with this request, and while they must respond, it doesn't guarantee that they will provide the footage.

Retention Periods

Most organisations have set periods during which they retain CCTV footage, after which the footage is usually overwritten or deleted. For this reason, it's crucial to act promptly after an accident to ensure your data is still available.

When to Get Police Involved

In many instances, involving the police can expedite the process of obtaining CCTV footage. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a reckless or dangerous driver, or a driver who refuses to admit fault for the accident. Here’s what you should know:

Reporting the Accident

If the accident resulted in injury or significant property damage, it's essential to report it to the police. Once involved, they can use their authority to secure CCTV footage more easily than you as a private individual might.

Police Access

Law enforcement typically has better access to public and private CCTV systems due to their official capacity; if they believe that the footage is crucial evidence, they can request or even subpoena the records.


Maintaining open communication with your local police station can also be beneficial; if they've already obtained the footage for their investigation, they might be able to share it with involved parties on your behalf, taking one less responsibility off your shoulders.

Key Takeaways

Ultimately, CCTV footage can be one of the most convincing pieces of evidence to include when building a no-fault car accident claim. Unlike photographs - which can be subject to interpretation - CCTV video footage provides all relevant parties with unbiased footage of the accident, exactly how it happened. So if you’ve been in an accident and need to prove a no-fault claim, consider obtaining CCTV footage from nearby businesses, organisations, and even private individuals.