More than 200 schools have CCTV in toilets and changing rooms
More than 200 schools have fitted CCTV in bathrooms and changing rooms, according to the biggest survey so far into the scale of surveillance of pupils.
In total there are thought to be at least 100,000 cameras installed in classrooms and corridors across Britain, with 90 per cent of secondaries and academies using them.
Some institutions have a CCTV camera for every five pupils, while one school in the northwest has put 20 in its lavatories and sports changing rooms.
Big Brother Watch, the privacy campaign group that obtained the figures through Freedom of Information requests, said parents should be worried about the level of surveillance being directed at their children and the authorities’ lack of accountability.
It said head teachers should disclose why footage is being recorded and who is allowed to view it.
In addition, schools will not be covered by the Home Office’s plans to set up a code of practice for the filming of citizens in public and a new surveillance watchdog will not be able to inspect them.
Nick Pickles, the director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This research raises serious questions about the privacy of schoolchildren across Britain, with some schools having one camera for every five pupils and hundreds of schools using cameras in toilets and changing rooms.
“The full extent of school surveillance is far higher than we had expected and will come as a shock to many parents. Schools need to come clean about why they are using these cameras and what is happening to the footage. Local authorities also need to be doing far more to reign in excessive surveillance in their areas and ensuring resources are not being diverted from more effective alternatives.
“The Home Office’s proposed regulation of CCTV will not apply to schools and the new Commissioner will have absolutely no powers to do anything. Parents will be right to say that such a woefully weak system is not good enough.”
In total 2,107 secondary schools and academies in England, Scotland and Wales provided data about their use of CCTV.
They have 47,806 cameras trained on pupils, more than half of which are inside their premises rather than looking for vandals or arsonists outside.
It is estimated that the total number of cameras in all schools is 106,710, despite an apparent lack of research about their effect on cutting crime and bad behaviour.
On average there is one camera for every 38 pupils but many schools had more than one for every 15 students. Christ the King school in Knowsley had one camera for every five pupils, the highest ratio found.
Within these figures, 207 schools said they had a total of 825 cameras set up in bathrooms and changing rooms. The Radclyffe School in Oldham alone had 20.
A spokesman for Knowsley Council said: “CCTV cameras in our schools are not continuously monitored and only authorised staff are able to view the footage. When footage is reviewed the reason for this is recorded.
“There are no cameras in changing rooms or toilets and signs are clearly displayed throughout the school to inform pupils, staff and visitors that CCTV is in operation.
“Christ the King is one of seven Centres for Learning built in Knowsley as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme in 2009. It was constructed with a long term forecast of rising pupil numbers and has capacity for the current number of pupils on roll to double in the coming years. Therefore the ratio of cameras to pupils may seem higher than at other schools at the current time.”