Video surveillance in public spaces by private individuals

What should we do when we see suspicious people hanging around our property or when our front garden is used for dumping waste? It might seem that the simplest solution is just to install a video camera which monitors the street in front of the garden. However, with a few notable exceptions, this is not allowed. We have published additional information on this subject in a factsheet entitled «video surveillance by private individuals».

Video surveillance for security purposes has a long history in Switzerland. More and more people mount security cameras on their property in order to guard themselves against unwanted visitors and to help track down offenders who have engaged in acts of vandalism, burglaries and the like. People often feel that they also need to monitor the public space in front of their property. However, in so doing they may be violating the privacy rights of a multitude of individuals. Recently we have received a number of complaints from persons who have been captured on private video cameras although they were in a public space.  These citizens feel that the cameras are intrusive, that they constrain their movements, and they quite justifiably ask whether this surveillance is permitted.

Ensuring public safety and order in public areas is in principle a matter for the police.  If there is a security issue on a piece of private property that emanates from a public space, the first step must be to inform the police. As a general rule, therefore, there is no justification for installing a video surveillance system in a public space. For more detailed information on the subject and possible exceptions, please refer to our factsheet «Video surveillance by private individuals» which you can find here.