CCTV cameras have become commonplace in all areas of society, but what are the regulations around installing CCTV in schools and other educational settings? CCTV can enhance safety and security in schools, however it’s important to consider data protection before installing surveillance cameras.
What Are the Benefits of CCTV in Schools?
There are a number of benefits to installing CCTV in schools, including;
- Deters theft and vandalism.
- Indicates areas for improvement.
- Improves teacher safety.
- Reduces bullying and anti-social behaviour.
- Protects against unauthorised visitors.
Deters theft and vandalism
CCTV cameras are an effective visible deterrent that can make would-be thieves think twice before committing a break-in, particularly when installed around the perimeter or at the entrance to a school. During evenings, weekends, and holidays, CCTV cameras can help to protect both the premises and its contents, which will often include high-value items like computers and other technology.
CCTV can also help deter vandalism, whether from pupils or from outside individuals. Prominently placed cameras will ensure that the potential perpetrators know that their actions are being monitored and recorded, discouraging graffiti or intentional damage.
Indicates areas for improvement
A CCTV system can highlight potential safety hazards, including busy corridors with steps and heavy doors, allowing changes to be made to protect students. In this way, CCTV can be an effective tool in identifying positive improvements that can be made to the operation of the school.
Improves teacher safety
As well as providing the peace of mind for teachers that their workplace is protected from unauthorised visitors, CCTV can enhance security when an incident occurs with a student. CCTV cameras can allow other staff members to be alerted when assistance is required due to anti-social behaviour in the classroom or common areas.
Reduces bullying and anti-social behaviour
The deterrent provided by CCTV cameras extends to students too, and the presence of CCTV can help reduce bullying and anti-social behaviour, including theft, smoking, and drug use.
Protects against unauthorised visitors
Using CCTV to monitor the entrances to a school premises will ensure that unauthorised visitors are quickly identified and removed from the site, providing peace of mind to teachers, students, and parents.
What Are the Drawbacks of CCTV in Schools?
Although installing a CCTV system in a school has many advantages, there are some drawbacks too. These include;
- Privacy concerns.
- Will not prevent every incident.
There are often privacy concerns around the use of CCTV cameras for surveillance in schools, so it is important to be transparent about where cameras are located and how footage will be used and stored. Students, teachers, and parents should all be aware when CCTV is in use.
Installing a CCTV system can be a big investment, particularly for schools or organisations on a budget. School premises often cover a large area, meaning that multiple cameras may be required to effectively monitor the entire site.
Will not prevent every incident
CCTV is primarily a deterrent. While installing CCTV cameras can discourage would-be intruders or vandals, and help reduce anti-social behaviour, CCTV alone will not prevent every incident. CCTV is most effective when used as part of a wider security set-up, for example when cameras are paired with a monitored alarm system.
Is It a Legal Requirement for Schools To Have CCTV?
Schools are not legally required to have a CCTV system in place, however many Local Authorities or educational organisations may choose to have CCTV installed.
Where Can CCTV Be Used in a School?
Although there is no definitive list of where CCTV can and cannot be used in a school, cameras are most commonly installed in corridors, entrance ways, communal areas, and rooms containing high value items, like a computer suite. It is generally recommended that CCTV is not used in areas considered private, including toilets and changing rooms, and it is unusual for cameras to be installed in classrooms.
Who Needs Informing Before Installing CCTV in a School?
Unlike using CCTV at home, when CCTV cameras are installed in a school, the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) must be informed of the purpose of the cameras and who is responsible for managing the CCTV system. The ICO must also be informed if the way the cameras are used is changed.
Most organisations, including schools, that use CCTV will need to pay a data protection fee, which is either £40 or £60 a year.
What About Data Protection and CCTV in Schools?
CCTV footage should not be kept for longer than it is required. The ICO recommends that footage is only stored “for long enough to allow for any incident to come to light (eg for a theft to be noticed) and to investigate it.”
Footage should be stored securely to prevent a breach of personal data. Most CCTV systems have an overwrite feature which automatically and securely deletes footage when it is no longer needed. Generally, footage should be deleted within 31 days, unless it is being used as part of an ongoing investigation.
CCTV footage is also covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), meaning that data must be kept secure and only accessed by authorised individuals.
Can CCTV Cameras Record Audio in Schools?
Although many CCTV cameras have the option to record audio, it can be difficult to justify recording sound in most settings, including schools. Recording audio is generally considered intrusive and there is rarely a lawful basis for listening to the people being recorded.
Do School Policies Need To Mention CCTV?
When installing CCTV in a school, it is important to complete a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) which outlines why you have chosen to use CCTV and how it impacts privacy within the school. This document should be kept on record.
In addition, school policies should be updated to include a separate CCTV policy, detailing the reasons for using CCTV, staff responsibilities, and the measures taken to keep footage secure. This information should also be added to the school privacy notice.
Is Signage Required When CCTV is in Use?
Signs should be clearly displayed so people understand that they are being filmed while on school premises. Any signage should make people aware that CCTV is in use, should be displayed in a place where it is clearly visible, and should include your contact details.
Signage can also provide an additional deterrent to would-be intruders or vandals when displayed in windows.
Can I Request CCTV Footage From My Child’s School?
Anyone can ask for a copy of CCTV footage in which they or their children are present. It is important that schools know how to access and provide recordings when requested, whether for parents or for public authorities like the police. Choosing a CCTV system that makes it easy to retrieve and edit footage will help you meet this requirement.
Whether it is CCTV at home or within an education setting, Access Control Solutions has years of experience installing CCTV systems and can provide further expertise depending on the particular setting. If you have any further questions or need any further advice then call us on 0116 236 6044 to discuss your requirements.