Nothing sinister about CCTV in school toilets, say Leicestershire head teachers
Head teachers have defended the placement of CCTV cameras in toilets and changing rooms at schools.
A new report by civil liberties group Big Brother Watch revealed more than 200 schools nationwide were using CCTV cameras in these locations.
The group said this raised serious questions about the privacy of children and might come as a shock to some parents.
Four schools in Leicestershire were named: South Charnwood High, Markfield; Crown Hills College, Leicester; Long Field Academy, Melton; and Woodbrook Vale, Loughborough.
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But their head teachers said the cameras were used for security and safety reasons and there was nothing untoward.
South Charnwood High head Andrew Morris said: "We refurbished a toilet block about four years ago and spent a considerable amount of money.
"The cameras focus on the wash basins in the boys' and girls' toilets. Their position can't be altered and students are aware they're there.
"There's nothing sinister about this. It's simply to safeguard against any bad behaviour.
"The footage is only ever looked at if an incident happens and as far as I'm aware, it hasn't. No one has ever raised it as a concern."
Dean Barnett, business manager at Crown Hills College, where there are five cameras in toilet blocks, said: "They are there as you enter the toilet block and are not in the toilet itself.
"The cameras are there for safety and to act as a deterrent.
"Our younger pupils have spoken to us about feeling safe and that's why we also have toilet attendants at lunchtimes."
Rob Garrett, head of Long Field, said: "We have a camera in the foyer entrance to the toilets so we can see students coming and going. It has never been a problem.
"Toilets have long been identified as bullying hot spots as they're segregated areas. This is our way of ensuring that doesn't happen."
Graham Bett, head of Woodbrook Vale, said: "One camera along one of our main corridors is able to see the entrance of the toilet block.
"Parents of prospective pupils get shown around and it's not something we hide.
"We've had two attempted break-ins in the past and that's what cameras are there for."
Nick Pickles, of Big Brother Watch, which gathered the data using Freedom of Information requests, said: "The full extent of school surveillance is far higher than expected.
"Schools need to come clean about why they're using cameras and what's happening to the footage."