CCTV in school toilets can help prevent bullying says Dagenham head

A Dagenham headteacher said he supports installing CCTV cameras in pupil toilets, as a campaign group criticised “excessive surveillance” at UK secondary schools.

Ges Smith, head of Jo Richardson Community School, which has 50 CCTV cameras but not in bathrooms, told the Post cameras overlooking sinks in school toilets can help prevent bullying.

Mr Smith spoke following an investigation by group Big Brother Watch which found 825 cameras located in changing rooms or toilets in 207 schools across the country.

The group, which released data from a sample of more than 2,000 schools, revealed one in ten schools use CCTV inside the school.

It said government proposals for government regulation of cameras was “woefully week” as it did not apply to schools.

Mr Smith appeared on ITV breakfast show Daybreak today to speak in favour of CCTVs in schools. Talking to the Post afterwards he said: “Our cameras are located in the corridors and outside the school, but not in changing rooms or toilets.

“I am against cameras in changing rooms as this is an invasion of privacy but cameras over the sink in toilets can be effective in stopping children from being bullied.”

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He said CCTV in schools was a useful tool for reasons other than preventing bullying: “If there is an incident of any kind that we haven’t seen and, for example, a parent complains, we can check the CCTV and find out exactly what has happened,” he explained.

“Also cameras can prevent theft by both pupils and outsiders. I’ve had pupils tell me they have been put off stealing because there is CCTV.”

Mr Smith, who said he had never had complaints about CCTV from pupils, teachers or parents, does believe however that their should be better regulation of CCTV cameras in schools to make sure the surveillance systems were not abused.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said their research raised serious questions about the privacy of schoolchildren across Britain

He added: “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.”

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