Scores of schools say they took pupils’ prints

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MORE than 60,000 pupils in Yorkshire and more than a million across the country have attended secondary schools which have taken children’s fingerprints according to a new report.

Figures released today based on a Freedom of Information action request shows that 60 schools in the region have used biometric systems to do this.

The report, published by civil liberty campaign group Big Brother Watch, had responses from 128 schools across Yorkshire with almost half saying they had taken pupils’ fingerprints.

Schools can use biometric technologies such as fingerprint identification and facial scanning to record attendance, grant access to libraries or to process cashless payments.

The figures in today’s report were taken from responses from schools before new rules were brought in by the Government at the start of the academic year. The Department for Education now say that schools must request permission from parents before taking pupils’ fingerprints.

Figures from Big Brother Watch show that before these rules were introduced around a third of schools using biometric technology in Yorkshire had not asked parents’ permission.

The report said there were 67,275 pupils enrolled at secondary schools using biometric technology across Yorkshire.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “As the new school term gets underway, now is the time for parents to check if their children are among the hundreds of thousands of pupils who are using biometric technology. Going to school should not mean kids are taught they have no privacy, especially at a time when we are sharing more data about ourselves than ever before.

“Fingerprinting them and tracking what they do might save some admin work but the risk is pupils think it is normal to be tracked like this all the time. Schools need to be transparent about what data is being collected and how it is used.

“Parents will be rightly concerned to hear so many schools did not seek their permission to fingerprint their children, while pupils may not have been made aware they now have a legal right to ask to use a system that doesn’t require a fingerprint to be taken.”