Security in environments where children, young adults and the vulnerable is of paramount importance. Of course we in Britain face nothing like the security issues that our friends in the USA have, but yet it remains important that people in positions of responsibility over the young and those in need of additional consideration are able to secure their premises here in the UK.
Security systems in schools don’t only protect the children, school estates are often victim to vandalism and burglary while teachers and the children under their supervision can be victims of violence and accusations of malpractice, assault or violence.
The problem lies with the expectation of privacy in such an environment. There’s a misconception that the faces of children can’t be filmed in public without their consent and people think this extends to school property. The reality is that in spaces such as classrooms, hallways and corridors there is no reasonable ‘expectation of privacy’ so you could put cameras up, however, teachers and pupils don’t appreciate having cameras trained on them all day. Unfortunately, it’s in the classroom where misbehaviour occurs and recorded footage proving who was at fault would be beneficial.
Naturally it’s not possible to install cameras in lavatories, changing rooms, nurses’ rooms or other such spaces where one would expect to be unobserved by anybody else. However, installing discreet cameras in hallways, dining areas, entrances, exits and foyers is a perfectly acceptable and reasonable step to take.
Sensible CCTV Security
CCTV cameras on private residence and business’ are known to deter burglars and the same is equally true for schools, colleges and universities. Educational establishments have the additional problem of having sprawling estates which several hundred people will need easy access to throughout the day. Security cameras would therefore be invaluable to prevent people with no legitimate business from coming onto the property undetected when the school is shut.
The logistics of securing a school are a nightmare for several reasons. As mentioned, myriad people need access to the school and grounds throughout the day, light and air are important, so large windows are often open throughout the day, fire doors and entrance ways need to be unlocked while anyone is present, schools have a variety of high value assets and personal property which is left on site for long periods of time and then there’s arson and vandalism to consider. Children currently attending and young adults who didn’t adapt well to school can bear grudges which they act out upon against the school property. Schools simply don’t have the budgets of live-in janitors any longer or or security to patrol the grounds, meaning that intruder alarms and CCTV are a cheap, effective alternative.
Alongside property protection there are health and safety aspects which come into consideration too. People misbehaving on stairs, running in corridors can be every bit as dangerous as deliberate bullying and victimisation. Crowds of people moving from one part of the building to another all at the same time can pose risks which hall monitors and prefects have traditionally dealt with, however, such school roles are diminishing in popularity, or simply becoming nominal based solely on previous good behaviour. Cameras help capture the flow of people and will help show where issues of crowding, bottlenecks, and pinch points occur, meaning that school schedules can be adapted to improve the movement of people through the space based on evidence and experience.
Another electronic innovation which makes keeping schools more secure is electronic class registration. Each child has to use a tag to register their entrance to each room as they walk through the door. If they then leave at any time their departure will be logged. This not only makes keeping track of attendance easier, if a child goes missing from school it makes it easier to find out immediately where they were last known to be, and at what time. Combine this data with that of CCTV cameras in common areas and it’s easy to tell if a child was ill, was sent to the head and ran away, or if anything more sinister occurred thanks to an unauthorised entry onto school property.
Quite simply, children have grown up with electronic surveillance devices watching them at all times, and don’t regard school property any differently than the mall or high street. They are quite familiar with their purpose and operation and don’t appreciate any threat to their privacy from them, especially not while they’re in a public space. And given the benefits CCTV and security alarms have for property owners, estate managers and the custodians of school grounds