February 21, 2008
School Removes Toilet Cameras After Parents Protest:
A school has been forced to remove CCTV cameras they installed in the students' toilets after furious protests from pupils and parents.
Hundreds of outraged students petitioned against the cameras after they spotted them in the toilets and even refused to use the loos all day so they were not caught on CCTV.
Other children were kept at home by their families rather than expose themselves to the "gross invasion of privacy".
The cameras were installed at Lipson Community College in Plymouth, Devon, which has 1,400 pupils.
Concerns were first raised when pupils returned from the week-long break on Tuesday and spotted the cameras.
Principal Steve Baker said contractors fitted them on the orders of another staff member, who did not have the measure approved by him or school governors.
Mr Baker added that the system had now been disabled and would be removed as soon as possible.
He said: "Someone made an error. They had no authorisation from me or from the governors to install these cameras.
"There was quite rightly a perception that there could be an invasion of privacy, even though the cameras were not aimed at the cubicles.
"The students have used their voice effectively and maturely. We are grateful to the students who raised it with us in a mature way and to their parents."
He added that there was no particular problem with toilet bullying or vandalism that would have required surveillance.
"The students were telling us that if there had been a problem they could have understood it," he said.
He said that no one would be disciplined over the error. "It's a learning situation, not a disciplinary one."
Earlier, a 15-year-old boy, who did not wish to be named, said the cameras were trained on the hand basins.
He said: "They are the round ones that can move. I'm not very happy about it. It feels a bit strange when you are going to the loo."
Sean Webb, who has three children at the school, kept his two sons out of school the day after they were discovered.
He said: "They came home from school on Tuesday on edge. I got it out of them that they had 'held themselves in' all day because of the cameras."
"My 16-year-old daughter insisted on going to school, but said she would hold herself in all day."
Lynda McTier, the assistant principal, denied that there had been any protests at the school.
She said the cameras were installed as part of a surveillance programme across the school.
"We have always had a strong reputation for encouraging students to use their voice in helping to co-ordinate the running of the college."
"We work very closely to resolve any problems people may have. We have met with students to discuss their concerns and hear their views on the CCTV system the college is developing."