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School ordered to take CCTV out of pupil toilets after parent backlash

Summerhill School, in Kingswinford, installed cameras to combat vandalism and bullying

Summerhill School in Dudley.

A school has been ordered to remove CCTV from inside pupil toilets following a backlash from parents.

Summerhill School in Kingswinford, Dudley, had installed the cameras last year “following some disappointing behaviour from students."

The school said the decision was taken after incidents of vandalism and bullying.

But it has now blamed contractors for installing the CCTV in the toilets, rather than in corridors outside.

Parents had claimed the surveillance was “intrusive” and “creepy” and feared inappropriate images of their children could be recorded.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office said an officer had visited the school and confirmed the cameras would now be removed.

An ICO spokesperson said: “Recording images of any identifiable individuals needs to be done in line with the Data Protection Act and particular care needs to be taken when this involves involve children.

"Also, cameras should only be used in toilet areas in exceptional circumstances.

“After working with the ICO, Summerhill School will remove the cameras and put in place a process to review data protection issues going forward.

“Any school considering using CCTV cameras must justify their use and consider whether or not it is proportionate, necessary, and addresses a pressing need not addressed by other measures.”

BirminghamLive had previously been told how pupils had been avoiding going to the toilet, with one female pupil at the Dudley school so upset to find CCTV in the toilet that she burst into tears.

School bosses claimed the cameras were intended to combat bullying and vandalism.

At the time one mum, who has a boy and a girl in Year 9, said: “It’s caused a lot of fuss, some of the parents on the Summerhill Facebook group have posted photos of the cameras in the toilets and one looks like it’s overhanging girls’ cubicles and another over lads’ urinals.

“My children have refused to go to the toilet in school, they feel like they are being watched.

“They said, ‘can we ring you to take us home to use the toilet?’

“It’s absolute madness.

“Some are saying it’s to prevent bullying and there’s been vandalism. But surely they can put a prefect on duty in the toilets at break times or a teacher, they don’t have to video children in toilets?

“A lot of parents are now requesting the footage.”

Executive headteacher James Bowkett said parents had been sent a letter informing them of the decision and said there would be a consultation into where the CCTV would be positioned next.

He said: “The school is very clear that we suggested that cameras were installed in the corridors outside the toilets.

"In a PFI school, the process of procurement is not a straightforward one, with multiple parties involved.

"The school was very surprised and disappointed that CCTV cameras were installed in such a sensitive area without the school being aware that this would be the case.

"We are very pleased that the cameras have now been removed by the PFI company. The wellbeing and safety of our students continues to be our top priority and we will continue to make sure that our students feel safe and happy at Summerhill.”

Copyright: Birmingham Mail

By Andy Richardson 15:46, 4 JUL 2018

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