Will the Courts Accept Your CCTV Footage as Evidence?

Let's talk a little bit about the steps that are required to submit video surveillance footage as evidence to courts. The first thing you need to worry about is the chain of custody. The court wants to know, from the moment that video was made, who was in charge of it, who was in possession of it, and how was it received by the courts. The quickest and easiest way to do it is to simply, as the officer is there on site, ask him to wait while you put a thumb drive in the video recorder, copy the footage onto the thumb drive, and then hand it to the officer. That right there eliminates any question about the chain of custody. It went from the video recorder to the officer.


The next thing that you've got to consider is the validity of the footage. You have to be able to prove to the court that the video hasn't been tampered with in any way. They can't accept it for evidence if you can't prove it hasn't been tampered with and it's an original. Professional video surveillance systems watermark the video. Every single frame has a hidden watermark. The watermark cannot be seen, but it can be verified that it's there. Now, if someone were to go in and alter even one frame on the video, it would alter the watermark, and we'd be able to tell that the video was tampered with. Once the court receives the video footage, we send them the watermark verification software. They put that player in, and they run through the video, and it will acknowledge the footage is original and has not been tampered with, or it will flag it and say it's been tampered with. The court will accept that outcome, whether it qualifies as evidence for the court or whether it has to be rejected.

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