Schools trial body cameras to aid safety and monitor behaviour

7th Feb 2020

Secondaries in England testing lightweight versions of technology worn by police.

A police officer demonstrates a body camera. Three secondary schools in England are trialling the technology. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty

Schools in England are equipping teachers with body cameras to monitor pupil behaviour and improve safeguarding, as part of a trial that could lead to them being deployed on a permanent basis.

At least two state secondary schools, one in London and one in Hampshire, said they had been impressed by the operation of the body cameras – lightweight versions of those worn by police – and hope to retain them.

Larry Davis, the deputy headteacher of Southfields academy in Wimbledon, said the use of body cameras by a small number of staff had improved behaviour and lessened the number of dangerous confrontations since they were introduced at the start of the school year.

“My aim is [to find out] how best can we just focus on the teaching and learning rather than dealing with confrontations. Since we have introduced [cameras] we have very few issues in regards to that – maybe once a month,” Davis told Schools Week, which first reported the body cameras trial.

The trials are being promoted by Reveal, which supplies body cameras to a number of UK police forces and other institutions including hospitals, and aims to sell the cameras and software to schools.

Reveal said one of the schools, a secondary in Hampshire that did not want to be named, sought body cameras for security after staff and a student were attacked last year.

“The main reason we brought cameras in was not to deal with our own students but to deal with unknown children that came on to our site from other schools and the local community,” a deputy headteacher at the school said.

The school said police found evidence from the body cameras was more useful in making arrests, and that their presence was deterring disruptive behaviour, with staff equipped with the cameras also wearing hi-vis jackets labelled “body-worn video” at the school gates.

“Sometimes the fact that we approach with a camera has the desired behavioural effect without even needing to turn it on. We’re definitely going to keep going with the cameras; it’s not something we can come back from because of what it’s done for us as a tool to safeguard our students,” the Hampshire deputy headteacher said.

A representative for Reveal said it had received inquiries about body cameras from schools, hospitals and retail outlets because of staff experiencing aggressive behaviour. The company had developed a “softer brand” of cameras that “look less imposing and more clinical, and more like they naturally belong on a teacher or a nurse”, said Ben Read of Reveal.

Read said the individual cameras cost £249, along with £15-a-month fee to use secure software for downloading and viewing footage. The schools involved are using a small number of body cameras – about six, rather than one for every classroom teacher.

But Tom Bennett, the Department for Education’s independent adviser on behaviour in schools, said he remained opposed to the use of body cameras. “Wearable CCTV is almost entirely useless in schools. It ruins the relationship between student and learner,” he said.

“There’s not much evidence that [body cameras] deter misbehaviour and plenty of evidence that they enhance the fear of crime. There may be some specific circumstances it might be useful, such as monitoring large playgrounds. But in general I’d advise against it strongly.”

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders and a secondary school headteacher, doubted that body cameras would be considered by many schools.

“There are clearly going to be questions about whether body cameras are appropriate in the setting of a school but we support the right of school leaders and governing bodies to make decisions about the measures they use to maintain discipline and security,” he said.

Article Source:

The Guardian

View online article HERE


< Back to News