Cameras in our schools

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MORE than 50 CCTV cameras have been installed in the borough’s schools within the last year – but many more could have been.

Figures released through a Freedom of Information request show that 42 cameras were installed in primary schools in Wigan borough in 2011/12 and a further 11 were installed in secondary schools.

The shock figures reveal the need for extra security in educational establishments in the borough, although the number could be far higher, as Wigan Council said: “There are schools within the Borough who through their devolved budgets process may have had CCTV installed without our involvement or knowledge, therefore the numbers that we have provided may not reflect the total number cameras installed in schools during 2011/12.”

The council refused to name which schools were involved in installing the CCTV systems in the past year for security reasons.

The move has come under criticism from the Taxpayers’ Alliance who say parents have the right to know which schools have CCTV cameras.

Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “The education budget should be spent on teaching pupils, not monitoring their every move. Of course there will be a cost to ensuring schools have reasonable measure to protect the welfare of youngsters, but the council must be transparent about how many cameras there are, what they cover and how much they cost. That way parents and taxpayers can judge whether they are getting value for money and whether privacy is being infringed.”

Reasons given by schools for having the cameras included the prevention of crime, such as vandalism and trespassing; to provide evidence for police; and to monitor the behaviour of pupils in less supervised areas and as part “student management”.

Wigan council refused to comment on the installation of the CCTV cameras, insisting it is a matter for individual schools and their governing bodies, but they would not reveal which schools had CCTV put in.

However, schools across the borough have been the target of thieves and vandals in recent years.

In March this year we reported that 30 newly planted trees were stolen from Ince CE Primary School, which did not have CCTV at the time.