A HEADTEACHER has come under fire for deciding to install CCTV cameras in his secondary school’s toilets.
Pupils and parents are said to be up in arms over Neil Houchen’s decision to put the cameras in boys’ and girls’ toilets at the Eastwood Academy.
The move forms part of a security crackdown on vandals and bullies, but parents have labelled it a “disgusting” invasion of a private space used by teenagers at a sensitive time of their life.
One parent, who asked not to be named, said: “There seems to be some uproar from the students at Eastwood Academy as the school has installed cameras in the boys and girls toilets.
“It really is quite disgusting.”
The school, in Rayleigh Road, Eastwood, has installed two cameras after graffiti was scrawled in toilets and sinks were filled with toilet paper.
Mr Houchen stressed vandalism was rare, but said his bid to tighten security was necessary as the school wanted to eradicate any misconduct.
He said: “CCTV cameras have been installed in the girls’ and boys’ toilets. I would like to stress that these cameras face the washbasins and do not face the cubicles.
“The purpose of these cameras is to aid detection of acts of vandalism and/or bullying, which pupils have reported as occurring on an ad hoc basis.
“I see it as my duty to make all areas of the academy site as safe and secure as possible, including toilets.
“I would like to stress these acts are extremely rare, but I am keen that the opportunity for such feckless misconduct is eradicated.”
The headteacher, who took over the school three years ago, denied any pupils had complained to him about the cameras and said those with concerns could air them at the next school council meeting.
The school has built a £50,000 staff gym and cafe, expanded its canteen and revamped its reception in the past year. It is updating its security system for the first time in a decade.
It has already replaced 15 existing cameras and is installing eight more in previously uncovered areas, including a bike shed that suffered a recent theft, the main playground at the centre of the site and in all its computer rooms.
All the main doors and gates in the school have been fitted with with electronic locks, which can be accessed using an electronic key card.
Mr Houchen intends to make all doors, including those to classrooms and cupboards, accessible using cards with various levels of authorisation.
The Echo revealed Futures Community College, in Southchurch Boulevard, had one camera for every 13 pupils in September last year.