Big Brother watching: Scots high school fitted with 48 CCTV cameras
A SCOTS secondary school has been fitted with 48 CCTV cameras – 37 of them inside the building.
Inverclyde Academy, Greenock, has the highest known number of CCTV cameras of any school in Scotland and almost one for every 20 pupils.
Education bosses claim the cameras are needed at the privately-built school, which opened two years ago, to help with fire safety.
But privacy campaigners said the cameras were excessive and unnecessary and another step towards a surveillance society.
The school, which has 965 pupils and 60 staff, amalgamated Greenock High and Wellington Academy.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that the school has 11 security cameras outside the building and 37 inside.
Val Knight-Rowley, chairwoman of Inverkip Primary Parents’ Association, one of the feeder schools to Inverclyde Academy, said the number of cameras was
“I think it’s a reflection of the society that we live in. I guess the cameras are there as a preventative measure as schools never used to be that big.”
Kevin Rodgers, project coordinator at Branchton Community Centre who has a child in 5th year at Inverclyde Academy, said: “I think they should be focusing on education instead of the cameras.
If there is a focus on education there wouldn’t really be a need for the cameras because the kids would be focused on their studies and careers rather than getting into bother.”
The news comes as West Lothian Council installed CCTV cameras in the toilets of two schools.
Council chiefs also gave the go-ahead for more cameras despite being condemned by some parents and privacy campaigners.
Campaign groups hit out at the number of cameras inside Inverclyde Academy and claimed it breached the privacy of teachers and students.
Daniel Hamilton, director of Big Brother Watch UK, said:
“There is already more CCTV in schools in Scotland than anywhere else in the world.
“CCTV should be used sparingly to help solve serious crimes, not to watch school children going about their day.
“Wouldn’t schools be better off spending the money on educating their pupils, rather than spying on them? “
Charles Farrier, of campaign group no CCTV, said:
“We are very concerned about the use of CCTV in schools as it risks normalising children to surveillance.
“We are creating a world in which children will not recall a time without such surveillance. Open street CCTV in towns and city centres has been show to be ineffective as a crime fighting tool, which raises serious questions about why CCTV is installed in schools.
Ann Ballinger, general secretary, of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said that CCTV cameras should not be used as a substitute for teachers.
“CCTV cameras can provide protection for both pupils and staff and alert school management to any health and safety problem.
“They can also be very intrusive and have to be handled sensitively.
“CCTV is an important tool but it is not a substitute for behaviour management. “
According to the Scottish Government’s latest statistics, Inverclyde has the second-highest rate of exclusions from school in Scotland. In 2010, a total of 756 children were excluded, giving a rate of 71 exclusions per 1,000 pupils. Only Dundee has a higher rate.
The rate for Glasgow is 58 per 1,000 and for Edinburgh, 41 per 1,000. Aberdeen has the third-highest rate of exclusions at 67 per 1,000 children.
A spokesman for Inverclyde insisted none of the cameras were in classrooms and that all were in
“social areas’ such as stairwells and corridors.
“The reason for a high number of internal cameras is because new buildings have to be split into fire zones so they are covered.
“So it might need two or three cameras to cover one zone. “
However, official figures show that another new-build high school in the area, Notre Dame, has around half of the number of CCTV cameras as Inverclyde Academy.
The school, also in Greenock, has eight cameras outside and 18 inside.
The spokesman said there were fewer pupils and not
“as many exits and stairwells that need covered.”
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