School CCTV row

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PUPILS in Knowley are watched by more CCTV cameras than anywhere else in the country, new figures have revealed.

Schools in the borough employ a staggering 129 cameras watching youngsters, with some even installing the surveillance devices in toilets and changing rooms.

The startling revelation only came to light after a privacy campaign group issued Freedom of Information requests to thousands of schools across the country.

Two schools in Prescot and Whiston were named on Big Brother Watch’s list of schools using CCTV to spy on pupils.

They are Knowsley Centre for Learning. in Knowsley Park Lane, Prescot, which has nine cameras, and St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic Centre for Learning in Cumber Lane, Whiston, with 10.

The practice has sparked outrage among privacy campaigners and teaching unions.

They argue it raises serious questions about excessive surveillance and warn of a risk footage captured by school cameras could fall into the wrong hands.

A spokeswoman for Knowsley Council defending the practice, saying its helped ensure pupil safety.

She added: “A strict policy on the use of CCTV in schools was drawn up by the council in 2009 and was shared with and approved by unions, professional bodies and head teacher associations.

“CCTV cameras in our schools are not continuously monitored and only authorised staff are able to view the footage. When footage is reviewed the reason for this is recorded.

“There are no cameras in changing rooms or toilets and signs are clearly displayed throughout the school to inform pupils, staff and visitors that CCTV is in operation.

“Christ the King is one of seven Centres for Learning built in Knowsley as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme in 2009.

“It was constructed with a long term forecast of rising pupil numbers and has capacity for the current number of pupils on roll to double in the coming years. Therefore the ratio of cameras to pupils may seem higher than at other schools at the current time.”

No one from either Knowsley Centre for Learning or St Edmund Arrowsmith were available for comment.

Privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch revealed the figures after submitting Freedom of Information requested to more than 2,000 schools.

Responses from 2,107 secondary schools and academies showed they used 47,806 cameras, including 26,887 inside school buildings. With 1.8 million pupils being taught in these schools, there was an average of one camera for every 38 children.