Campaign blasts ‘Big Brother’ cameras in school toilets

THERE are more than 2,500 CCTV cameras being used inside schools in Yorkshire including at least 200 filming inside changing rooms and toilets, according to a new figures.

The campaign group Big Brother Watch has published a report today which shows that there are more than 100,000 cameras being used in secondary schools and academies across England, Scotland and Wales.

Its director Nick Pickles said the figures raised questions about the use of CCTV and the privacy of schoolchildren.

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However the head teacher of the school in Yorkshire with the highest number of cameras per pupil said that the CCTV helped pupils to feel safe and secure.

Nationally more than 200 schools are using CCTV cameras in toilets or changing rooms according to Big Brother Watch.

A total of 825 cameras were located in the toilets or changing rooms of 207 schools across England, Scotland and Wales, figures provided by more than 2,000 schools showed.

Almost one in 10 of the schools which use CCTV said cameras were positioned in such places, while 54 have at least one camera for every 15 students. This included eight schools in Yorkshire.

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Mr Pickles 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. The full extent of school surveillance is far higher than we had expected and will come as a shock to many parents.

Schools need to come clean about why they are using these cameras and what is happening to the footage. Local authorities also need to be doing far more to reign in excessive surveillance in their areas and ensuring resources are not being diverted from more effective alternatives.”

However the head of City of Leeds School which was the highest ranked Yorkshire school in the table – with one camera for every six pupils has defended its use of CCTV.

Georgie Sale said: “Our school has a City Learning Centre (CLC) attached to it. These centres have a lot of computer facilities in them and I would say around half of the cameras we have are for the CLC.

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“Also our school’s capacity is for around 1,000 pupils but we have a third of that on our current roll which effects how many cameras per pupil we have. We still have a site that is big enough for 1,000 pupils and if we were full we would not be included in this list.”

She also told the Yorkshire Post that the cameras allowed the inner city school to be open to the community while also allowing pupils to feel safe and secure.

Big Brother Watch, published the figures following a Freedom of Information Act request to more than 2,000 schools incuding more than 150 in Yorkshire.