School defends policy of CCTV in toilets

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EDUCATION bosses have defended their use of CCTV cameras in toilets and changing rooms at Rainford High.

The revelation - made by campaign group Big Brother Watch - that Rainford and 206 other schools nationwide were using the technology to monitor pupils 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.

Rainford High has a total of seven cameras in toilets or changing rooms, as well as dozens more in other parts of the grounds.

However, headteacher Ian Young defended the school’s policy, saying the cameras were used the tackle bullying and general misbehaviour.

“In the old buildings there are CCTV cameras in the areas of the toilets and the changing rooms none of the cameras have views into the toilet cubicles or changing areas,” he said.

“At Rainford High Technology College we are committed to the values of “Everyone matters, Everyone helps and Everyone succeeds.

“To ensure we can achieve these we need our students to be safe and happy on the school and CCTV enables us to achieve this more effectively.”

Mr Young said the cameras could also be used could also be help identify pupils suspected of stealing from changing rooms.

It is believed pupils and parents were informed of the school’s CCTV policy when it was introduced several years ago. Once the new development at Rainford High is completed there will be a total 62 cameras on site.

Mr Young added: “It is clear that CCTV plays a massive part in improving school safety and schools are trying to have a sensible approach to that. It’s not about someone being monitored.”

Privacy campaigners Big Brother Watch revealed the figures after submitting Freedom of Information requested to more than 2,000 schools. Rainford High is the only school in St Helens to use CCTV in toilets or changing rooms.

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.