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CCTV in Toilets: Looking at the Surveillance of Schools

One of the biggest surveys so far into the scale of surveillance of pupils in public schools has revealed that over 200 schools have CCTV in bathrooms and changing rooms over the UK.

classroom

According to the Telegraph, there are thought to be at least 100,000 cameras installed in schools across Britain, with 90% of secondary schools and academies using them.

A total of 825 cameras were located in the toilets or changing rooms of 207 schools across the UK these figures were provided by more than 2,000 schools. The Radclyffe School in Oldhamin particular was revealed to have 20 cameras in toilets or changing rooms – what questions does this raise?

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This research raises serious questions about the privacy of schoolchildren across Britain, with some schools having one camera for every five pupils and hundreds of schools using cameras in toilets and changing rooms.

How do parents feel about their children being watched, and by whom? What is the actual limit on the number of people that have access to these recordings and what is done with the footage afterwards? Is it overwritten or saved in records?

Big Brother Watch, explains that parents should indeed be concerned about the amount of surveillance that is being carried out and of the lack of accountability of the authorities. Saying that teachers should disclose why footage is being recorded and who exactly is allowed to view it.

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All schools have stated that CCTV cameras are there for the protection of students and staff as well as the protection of the property and that of the school. And in some cases the monitoring has been very useful to prove certain cases, such as student violence.

On average the survey has found that there is one camera for every 38 pupils but for a lot of schools this figure increased to one for every 15 students. Christ the King school in Knowsley had one camera for every five pupils, this being the highest number found.

Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of parenting website Netmums, explained: “I think everybody realises that this is not in the cubicles, it is in the open areas, and actually, that’s where a lot of bullying and difficult behaviour takes place.”

With numbers in schools constantly increasing, the amount of surveillance and security is too. Both parents and school staff should always look out for the safety of the pupils and this is of course why CCTV has been installed in so many schools around the country. However, are they all necessary and could there be other measures put in place in certain areas. All schools using CCTV are required by law to adhere to the Data Protection Act.

Would you feel differently if your child was bullied in a changing room where nobody could see and nobody could prove the incident ever occurred? Perhaps there just need to be more rules put in place and more information expressed for the parents.

You can view all of the schools that participated in the survey that have CCTV in toilets or changing rooms here.

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