There’s a misconception when we talk about commercial security in that many people assume that commercial security’s primary purpose is to protect property. But here at JKE Fire and Secruity, we believe that protecting people is more important. And that is never more the case than in schools and other educational institutions.
While educational institutions have a duty of care to protect students and staff from harm, we also know that there is a direct relationship between feeling safe at school and academic achievements. Be this for primary, secondary or college and university students, a safe and secure environment provides reassurance to teachers and students.
Despite the best efforts from staff to create a safe environment, instances of knife crime, drugs, violence and criminal offences are on the rise. Pre-pandemic, the Met Police reported over 8,000 incidences in London schools alone, with over 400 incidents of people carrying weapons. However, it’s not just London-based schools experiencing this. Early in 2022, Derby City Council launched the ‘Your Choice’ programme aimed at tacking knives and other serious and violent crimes amongst secondary school children.
How do security systems improve school security?
A well-maintained security system, however, can help overcome many of the security issues that school management teams face daily:
- Bullying and violence – Sometimes, the presence of CCTV cameras is enough to discourage anti-social and bullying behaviour; however, if they’re not, they also provide essential evidence to support the victim.
- Investigating instances – sometimes, investigating an incident can be complex and involve varying perspectives, and relying on testimony from peers can be subjective. Through CCTV footage, school management teams can be more objective in their investigations.
- Smoking and drug use – Installing CCTV cameras in hot spots for smoking and drug use improves visibility for staff while acting as a deterrent for students. Often, the most successful commercial security approach is prevention.
- Vandalism – through the combination of access control technology and CCTV cameras, school management teams can reduce the costly impact of vandalism by restricting access to unauthorised areas or outside of hours.
- Monitoring & restricting access – from restricting access to storage areas to having an accurate real-time view of who’s in the building at any given time, access control systems can provide school management teams complete control of their building.
- Monitoring and restricting vehicle access – through access control systems and ANPR cameras, you can ensure only approved vehicles, such as staff and pre-booked visitors, can access your parking areas. Additionally, using ANPR cameras within the parental pick-up zones can provide added security for parents and students.
- Communicate important information through Voice Alerting Systems (PAVA Systems) – while some schools are fitted with intercom systems, many rely on siren alarms. However, research has shown that clear voice instructions are more effective than a siren. Additionally, the flexibility of instructions provides education management with the ability to react quickly and effectively to any security threat, from fire alerts, evacuation instructions, and intruder lockdowns. This is particularly important for institutions operating across a range of buildings on site.
On their own, CCTV, access control systems and alerting systems can improve security, however, combined, they provide a comprehensive commercial security system designed to save lives and improve safety.
Is CCTV in schools legal?
The simple answer is, yes, it is legal to use CCTV within schools when used correctly and in accordance with the necessary regulations. For schools specifically, any CCTV or commercial security system that captures personal information is subject to the Information Commissioner’s Office Code of Practice and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP). This includes completing a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA), assigning a responsible person for day-to-day responsibility of the system, and providing regular maintenance checks.
In addition to the above responsibilities, it’s also the school’s responsibility to notify any users of the building in advance that CCTV is in operation. For schools and educational institutions, this means informing pupils and caregivers are aware in advance and who they can contact if they have any questions. The easiest way to communicate this is visually through CCTV signage throughout the school and including it in your school policies and literature.
What’s the right system for my school?
As with any commercial or domestic property, the right commercial security system will depend on various factors, including the intended use, the users and the property itself.
According to the ICO, it’s necessary to ensure that the use of CCTV is justified, proportionate and necessary. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that every installation of commercial security systems within schools and educational institutions is tailored to that school’s exact needs.
If you’re interested in learning more about how a tailored commercial security system could improve your school’s safety, contact us today for a free consultation.