The Principal of a school in Newcastle has written to parents following concerns about CCTV cameras installed in communal areas of the toilets.
They were put in place at Excelsior Academy in Scotswood because pupils and some parents raised concerns about safety.
New cameras have been installed throughout the academy since the start of term to improve site security and safeguarding. Having previously received concerns from some pupils and parents about safety in the toilet areas of the academy, we made the decision to install cameras in the communal sink areas of the toilets. Occasional reports of anti-social behaviour, bullying and vandalism have been raised by the school council and parent governors, making some pupils feel nervous and vulnerable when visiting the toilet at break times. The decision was approved by governors after speaking with parent representatives and the school council to extend the CCTV camera system which covers the corridors and school grounds to monitor the toilet areas and some stairwells." >
Craig Taylor says the CCTV encourages good behaviour and allow staff to investigate any allegations of poor behaviour or damage.
He has further clarified the scope of the cameras:
They do monitor the entrance and the hand basin area of the toilets to encourage appropriate pupil behaviour as they enter and leave.
The only have a 90 degree field of vision and have been configured so they can only monitor the hand basin and communal areas of the toilets.
They do not monitor the toilet cubicles or urinals.
They do not record any audio, such as conversations between pupils.
The school says it followed legal requirements in the installation and monitoring of the camera system.
Specially trained welfare and behaviour managers are the only staff with access to the new toilet camera footage, there is no live feed, and the footage is deleted after a week.
But some parents are unhappy that they were not told about the CCTV before it was installed.
Vicky-Marie Corless has set up a petition to get the cameras in the toilets removed.
It's a complete invasion of our children's privacy. We as parents were also not informed of the installation. Theres some serious concerns and safeguarding issues. The children of the school not only feel embarrassed, undignified but very anxious and upset by the CCTV. The school have a duty of care to maintain the dignity of our children, it is a school not a prison and prisoners get to go to the toilet without cameras why should our children be subjected to such humiliation?" >