NI school installs CCTV cameras in pupil toilets

A grammar school in Northern Ireland has confirmed to the News Letter it did not consult with parents before deciding to install CCTV cameras in pupil toilets.

Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 12:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 12:10 pm
Belfast Royal Academy.

Belfast Royal Academy insists the CCTV cameras have not yet been activated and said any decision to do so would be taken after consultation with "the wider school community".

Belfast Royal Academy did not inform parents of any policy change in the use of CCTV cameras until after it was contacted by the News Letter on Tuesday afternoon.

"It was decided that it would be prudent to install the technical infrastructure needed to allow the school to extend the coverage of the CCTV system to areas where we have had isolated incidents in the past, including the main pupil toilet facilities," said school principal Mrs. Hilary Woods.

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"Installation of the underlying technical infrastructure has now been completed, but it has not been commissioned and it has not been activated.

"The school currently has no plans to activate the infrastructure in the main toilet facilities and it has only been installed on a precautionary basis," added Mrs. Woods.

Principal Woods explained the decision to install CCTV in the main pupil toilets was taken after a review and an upgrade to the school CCTV system over the summer.

"We have had a CCTV system in Belfast Royal Academy for more than five years," said Mrs. Woods.

"The system helps us to protect school property and provide a safe and secure environment for pupils, parents, staff, and visitors.

"Over the course of the summer and in line with good maintenance practice, we took the opportunity to upgrade the system and review the number and positioning of individual cameras."

Mrs. Woods continued: "In addition, it is important for pupils, parents, staff, and visitors to note that if a decision was taken by the school at some point in the future to activate the new infrastructure and make the cameras in the toilets operational, then this decision would only be taken after appropriate consultation with the wider school community and in line with all relevant guidance and legislation, including the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2016.

"An impact assessment of the proposed use of the CCTV cameras would be undertaken by the school at that time and all stakeholders would be notified of the potential activation of the cameras.

"Our updated policy on the use of CCTV cameras will be available on our School website following ratification by the Board of Governors."