Four Derbyshire schools have been named in a shock report highlighting the use of CCTV cameras in pupils’ changing rooms and toilets.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by civil liberties pressure group Big Brother Watch reveal there are ten CCTV cameras in toilets and changing rooms at Matlock’s Highfields School, two in Tibshelf School, two at Swanwick Hall School and one in Eckington School.
Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This research raises serious questions about the privacy of our schoolchildren.”
However, headteachers have defended the controversial use of the cameras – saying they help cut vandalism and bullying.
Eddie Wilkes, headteacher at Highfields School, said the cameras – which were installed following extensive talks with governors, students, parents and staff – covered the entrance and exit areas of “some toilets”.
He added: “They are not in scope of private areas.”
Jonathan Fawcett, headteacher at Swanwick Hall School, said: “We’ve never had a complaint about our cameras.
“Since they were installed in the school’s toilets we’ve had one incident of grafitti and one incident of anti-social behaviour and in each case we’ve been able to identify the culprit.”
Headteacher Patrick Cummings said Eckington School’s camera keeps watch over a recently-built and expensive toilet.
He downplayed the report, saying “most schools have a great number of cameras”.
He added: “Thankfully Eckington School is a safe place which is free of vandalism so we don’t think it necessary to have large-scale CCTV coverage.”
Tibshelf School was unavailable for comment.
A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “Any schools using CCTV have to adhere to the Data Protection Act and make it clear cameras are in use.”
Commenting on this story on the Derbyshire Times Facebook page, Dave Longden said: “Disgusting. Who is monitoring the monitors?”
Julie Darby added: “I don’t like the thought of cameras being in toilets and changing rooms. I know this might sound old-fashioned but why can’t same-sex teachers take turns and patrol private places such as toilets, like when I was at school?”
Melanie Bunting said: “This is a disgraceful abuse of technology and doesn’t take into consideration the rights of privacy for children. This must be stopped.”
On our website, S Middleton said: “Immoral. What’s next - tagging pupils? Big Brother gone mad!”
CynicalCestrefeldian added: “This is going too far – disgusting.”
In our online poll, which asked “Do you think schools should use CCTV cameras to keep an eye on pupils”, 71 per cent of people said no while 29 per cent of people said yes.
Nationally, more than 200 schools use 825 cameras in changing rooms and bathrooms.
To read the full report, visit www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk.
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