03-15-2010, 09:51 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
Schoolchildren 'routinely monitored' by CCTV
Quote:Surveillance cameras are now installed in most UK schools, despite little warning given to parents or pupils, it was claimed.
As many as 85 per cent of teachers have reported the use of CCTV in their schools and one-in-10 said cameras had even been placed in toilets.
According to the study, some schools are also using other techniques such as fingerprinting, metal detectors, electronic identity cards, eye scanners and facial recognition systems.
Research funded by Salford University said that schools were increasingly becoming a “hotbed for surveillance practices” in the UK as children were subjected to checks for often mundane reasons such as borrowing a book from a library or paying for lunch.
But Dr Emmeline Taylor, the report’s author, also suggested many schools were collecting CCTV images illegally by failing to inform pupils and visitors that they were being monitored under the Data Protection Act.
She also said the effectiveness of CCTV remained “extremely dubious”.
“Surveillance has burgeoned in UK schools without too much concern or commotion,” she said
“Not only are UK pupils subjected to surveillance rivalling that in airports and prisons, but the law apparently protecting our civil liberties is so impotent that it offers nothing by way of protection.
“It is a common misconception that the processing of all personal data must take place on the basis of consent. The dearth of concrete legislation permits ever more invasive surveillance practices to be introduced in schools.”
As part of the study, carried out as part of a PhD, Dr Taylor examined existing research into the subject of CCTV in schools.
She also surveyed 24 secondaries in one local authority in the north-west of England. Dr Taylor found that 23 of the schools had CCTV.
An earlier survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that 85 per cent of teachers worked in schools with spy cameras.
In most cases, schools had an average of 20 cameras around the school site, with some installed in toilets.
Last year, it emerged that as many as 100 cameras were being used as part of a £60,000-a-year surveillance system at Stockwell Park High in south London.
“The reasons for implementing CCTV in schools are extremely varied, ranging from crime prevention, to tackling bullying, deter smoking, teacher training, prevent truancy or simply to monitor pupil behaviour,” said Dr Taylor.
“The effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and detecting crime remains extremely dubious, and its impact upon more trivial behaviours such as playing truant has not been measured.
“CCTV is often attributed with numerous benefits that often there is no evidence to suggest that it can deliver on.”
Dr Taylor said an estimated 3,500 schools in the UK – around one-in-seven – also used fingerprinting technology, usually in canteens or libraries.
A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: “There are no grounds for suggesting that schools are being used as ‘testbeds’ for surveillance.
“Clear guidance on these matters has been issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
“We give schools freedom to run their own affairs. It is rightly down to headteachers to use their professional judgment in choosing technology to improve their day-to-day running.
“But it's plain common sense for them to talk to parents and pupils about this and all issues relating to their pupils to how schools operate.”
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