It is encouraging to see so many people starting to challenge the extensive use of surveillance in schools. Gavin Atchison reports:
Half of York’s secondary schools have been filming pupils on CCTV without telling parents, sparking condemnation from privacy campaigners.
An investigation by The Press has found that while all ten secondaries in the city have cameras installed, only four informed parents first. Five did not, while one cannot find the original records.
One school, Huntington, has 113 cameras – more than City of York Council has in the whole of the city centre, although its head defended the cameras.
The report also refers to some as-yet-unpublished research on the impact of surveillance:
Dr Emmeline Taylor, a criminologist and researcher at Salford University, said no independent research had shown CCTV to benefit schools, despite its widespread use.
She has conducted two new studies, due to be published later this year, examining how CCTV in schools fits with the Data Protection Act, and studying pupils’ views of cameras.
She found many pupils saw cameras as “symptomatic of an underlying mistrust of them” and as the “embodiment of suspicion”. She said there was also evidence they could even cause some pupils to misbehave, as they felt they were seen as troublemakers anyway.
Her other paper concluded: “Schools are contributing to the emergence of a surveillance society and fundamentally habituating young people to accept a heightened level of scrutiny.”
Her conclusions are consistent with the concerns I raised last month, here.
Read more in The Press.