The government has performed a U-turn on its proposal to introduce regulations for retailers using CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition.

The news has been broadly welcomed by retailers, who feared the introduction of further regulatory burdens when the government consulted on plans to introduce a regulatory code of practice last March.

Following the consultation, it has now decided to introduce a voluntary code of practice that will be created in partnership with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The initial proposal for statutory regulations was opposed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

Responding to the consultation, the ACS said a voluntary code of practice would be much more effective and would stop unnecessary red tape for retailers who use video technology to protect their business and staff.

“Retailers are already caught up in a mass of red tape and to introduce unnecessary regulations on their security measures would have been counter-productive,” ACS chief executive James Lowman said. “CCTV equipment has a clear role in local shops to protect the business, retail staff and the public.”

Pauline Norstrom, chairman of the British Security Industry Association CCTV section, said it was essential that government worked with industry when coming up with the code of practice. “It is hoped the government will continue to engage with industry in order to ensure the effectiveness of such developments,” she said. “CCTV is vital to the protection of our society, and it is possible to safeguard civil liberties while making effective use of CCTV systems, as the two are not mutually exclusive.”

The ACS would also work closely with government on the voluntary code of practice to ensure that the interests of local shops were fully understood, Lowman added.