An East Riding school is to install CCTV cameras in student toilet areas after concerns some pupils “feel vulnerable”.
Headlands School and Community Science College headteacher Sarah Bone is pressing ahead with the move – which she accepts is “a sensitive issue” – after consulting parents of pupils at the Bridlington secondary.
Parents have been told incidents of vandalism, smoking and acts of unkindness have become evident in and around the student toilet areas of the 1,048-pupil school.
Mrs Bone has told parents in a letter: “These areas have become an environment where some of our students feel vulnerable.
“I want our students to be able to use these facilities without any sense of fear of intimidation, risk of breathing in cigarette smoke or having to make do with vandalised equipment.
“As a large secondary school we are not alone in facing these challenges.
“Schools both in the East Riding and across the country successfully tackle this problem with the use of CCTV.”
CCTV cameras are in place in other parts of the secondary’s Sewerby Road site.
Mrs Bone said: “These cameras have been extremely successful in ensuring that all our students are safe, whether it be from people entering our building from outside or, as sometimes occurs, antisocial behaviour of a small minority of our students.
“One area of concern that still exists for me is the toilet facilities that are not covered by CCTV.
“As teachers, we sadly cannot be everywhere at break and lunchtimes.”
Mrs Bone said “selected Headlands School staff” would monitor the cameras, which are to be installed in the toilet areas after October half-term.
She insisted the cameras would be positioned to protect pupils’ privacy.
She said: “The cameras would be positioned so that they do not infringe upon student privacy within cubicles and in the urinal areas.
“Such a system has been shown to be very effective in schools that have adopted it, making the facilities more pleasant and, above all, safe.”
Mrs Bone was previously deputy headteacher at Hessle High School, which installed CCTV cameras in the public areas of its student toilets a number of years ago.
Hessle High School was among 206 schools nationally reported to be filming in toilets areas in a 2012 report by civil liberties group Big Brother Watch.
The Hessle secondary installed its cameras years ago in response to concerns from students about feeling intimidated in toilets and vandalism.
When the Big Brother Watch report was published, Hessle High School insisted the cameras did not intrude on student privacy and were fully compliant with guidelines.
The students were aware the cameras were there and had not expressed any concerns.
Staff monitoring the CCTV footage at the time had enhanced CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks.
‘Visible CCTV can act as a deterrent’
Councillor Kerri Harold, chairman of the East Riding Council children and young people’s overview and scrutiny sub-committee, said: “I am sure Headlands has sound reasons as to why they want to put CCTV in those areas.
“Anything that stops young people feeling intimidated or vulnerable in any area of school must be a good thing.
“We live in a modern age where a lot of places are covered by CCTV cameras without people knowing it, but CCTV can also act as a deterrent when, as in this case, people will know it is there.”
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