Cameras in toilets used to ‘supervise’, says Chichester school

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CHICHESTER High School for Boys has revealed it has CCTV systems in place in the pupils’ toilets to enhance the ‘safety and security of the school community’.

The discovery came to light after Big Brother Watch, a privacy and civil liberties campaign group, revealed more than 200 schools, including 42 in the south east, are using CCTV cameras in toilets or changing rooms.

Headteacher Gavin Salvesen-Sawh said: “The school has had CCTV for a number of years. We have extended the CCTV system, in line with our safeguarding and security protocols.

“The school has a camera in two toilets, but these cover only the communal areas. The reason for this is that we have a duty of care throughout the whole school day in terms of supervision.

“Especially at break and lunchtime, rather than have a member of staff on duty in a toilet area, we can ‘supervise’ by CCTV in the communal areas.

“As you are aware, under new Ofsted arrangements, safeguarding of our young people is a priority.

“At Chichester High School for Boys, we have the additional issue of occupying an open site, which brings its security issues.

“We have so many entrances to the site in addition to sharing the site, with not only another school, but two other organisations, security of our school community is paramount.

“Sadly during 2011, we had to call the police on two occasions, as we experienced intruders on the site.”

Mr Salvesen-Sawh explained police were called twice when two adult male intruders gained access to the school buildings – as a consequence the school extended its CCTV capabilities to enhance the security of the grounds.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “Why is it nearly every other school in the country manages to deal with bullying and other issues without needing toilet cameras? Is there someone watching every hour of the day to make sure kids was their hands?

“From Home Office research to police studies, time and time again CCTV has been demonstrated to have barely any deterrent on crime, doesn’t stop people entering your premises and at best moves problems to other areas.

“Sadly some schools seem to be ignoring that evidence and enthusiastically handing over large cheques to CCTV salesmen.

“Pupils and staff should be able to enjoy be at school without being under constant surveillance.

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

The use of CCTV is up to schools, depending on their own capital budgets; contracts to install CCTV lie between the school and the contractor.

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said: “Schools that do have CCTV would have it for the safety and security of both students and buildings.

“The installation of CCTV in schools is a matter for the individual schools.”