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School 'spycam' plan will beat the vandals

Portsmouth News | March 24, 2007

Big Brother-style surveillance cameras are to be installed at a school in a bid to clamp down on vandalism and bad behaviour.

A huge new CCTV system is being lined up to watch over the sprawling 32-acre Henry Cort Community College campus.

Despite the refusal of school and county chiefs to discuss how the camera scheme could operate or how children's privacy will be protected, parents have welcomed the move to install cameras as a way to improve discipline at the school, both in the classroom and the playground.

Some parents have voiced fears over standards of pupil behaviour among the 943 children at the Hillson Drive college. Only 147 families recently made it their first choice school – way short of the 210 places available.

The plan to install CCTV around the site comes just six months after new headteacher Philip Munday took the helm last September.

Private companies are now being asked to put forward bids to provide and run the surveillance system, and so education chiefs are refusing to discuss details while they are waiting to hear what the firms can offer, and at what price.

Assistant principal Ken Austin said it was too early to establish exact costs or numbers of cameras to be installed, but hoped the system would be in by the end of the year and able to be expanded in future.

He added: ‘We are investigating likely costs etc in an attempt to maintain modern security standards in a college which is used 16 hours per day and covers a 32-acre site.

‘Hampshire council spokeswoman Kirsty Gunner said part of the reason cameras were needed was to watch out for vandals and added: ‘Installation of such systems is now a common feature in secondary school environments.'

Parent Kevin Towler, whose two daughters attend the school, said something was needed quickly to counter fighting, bullying and bad behaviour.

‘There is a definite problem and this idea could help resolve it.'

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