Big Brother High: School that has 112 CCTV cameras

Daily Mail
09.02.2011
By Daily Mail Reporter

Big Brother High: School that has 112 CCTV cameras - that’s one for every 10 pupils

A school has been branded a ‘high security prison’ after it installed 112 CCTV cameras to spy on its pupils.

The sheer number means that there is now an average of one camera per 10 students at Stoke Park School and Community Technology College in Coventry.

The school - which has 1,090 pupils aged 11-18 - has 33 CCTV cameras covering the outside and 79 fixed inside the buildings and outside classrooms.

The surveillance network was installed after a spate of break-ins and thefts.

Teachers at the school, who all asked not to be named for fear of their jobs, claimed the equipment cost £50,000 to buy and a further £10,000 a year in running costs.

But parents and civil rights groups say the cameras are ‘totally over the top’ and are demanding they be taken down.

Father-of-two Dan Austin, 40, said: ‘It’s ridiculous to have so many cameras and totally unnecessary.

‘All parents want their children to be safe at school but this is over the top. It’s like sending your kids to a high security prison.

‘I don’t like the idea that children are being monitored so closely - it instills a dangerous lesson that no one is trustworthy.’

Civil rights campaigners also called for the school to cut the number of cameras.

Daniel Hamilton, from Big Brother Watch, said: ‘Any right-thinking person would conclude that Stoke Park’s snooping is completely over the top.

‘Wouldn’t the school be better off spending the money on educating their pupils, rather than spying on them?

‘CCTV should be used sparingly to help solve serious crimes, not to watch school children going about their day.’

But the school defended the security measures saying the cameras were needed to ‘keep pupils safe’.

But one teacher, who asked not to be named, said several members of staff were ‘privately angry’ about the numbers of cameras used.

The teacher said: ‘You literally cannot walk anywhere around the school without being watched.

‘Over the past few months the school has suffered from graffiti, anti-social behaviour and thefts but I personally do not think this is the way to go to solving the issue.

‘The cost of the cameras has risen. I think its about £50,000 with around £10,000 to £12,000 a year running costs.’

Dr Emmeline Taylor, an expert on the impact of CCTV in schools at Salford University, said cameras in schools are often ‘counterproductive’.

She said: ‘In terms of effectiveness, there has been no independent or verifiable research to assess the efficacy of CCTV in schools.’

Details of the cameras were revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

Ken McAdam, lead member adviser at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also criticised such a high level of CCTV monitoring.

He said: ‘You have to question the need for that many cameras.

‘If the pupils behaviour has been identified as good then why is it necessary to have 112 cameras?

‘We’d expect the school to have had an appropriate liaison with all the relevant parties - staff, pupils and parents - to determine whether there was a need to have any CCTV at all.

Full article

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