Parents launch petition as cameras found in childrens' toilet at Neasden primary school
PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 November 2019
Concerned parents at a Neasden primary school have launched a petition after discovering CCTV cameras in toilets used by children.
Cameras were spotted by unsuspecting parents taking part in a recent coffee morning tour of classrooms at Mitchell Brook Primary School, prompting the action.
The petition "our children are not criminals, respect their privacy" now has more than 80 signatures and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) confirmed it's investigating after a complaint.
One mother was peering into what appeared to be a changing room, but on opening the door further saw the cameras, one of which was on top of the toilet cubicle looking down on sinks.
A parent, who did not want to be identified, said: "It's just horrifying and really creepy. The school didn't notify the parents, it just went ahead and did it without consulting us.
"When we found out, all of us were in shock."
Complaints were made to the school on September 11, three days afer the discovery and a few days before a notice appeared on the school newsletter on September 15.
There was also no child-friendly signage alerting the children to cameras until the complaint was made, according to correspondence seen by the Brent & Kilburn Times.
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Despite concern headteacher Theresa Landreth said: "There was never any intention not to inform the parents." However, the head was unable to say why they had not consulted parents before installing CCTV.
Letters from Ms Landreth and governing body chair Angela Turner, sent to worried parents after the discovery, defended the use of cameras.
They explained the decision was taken by the governing body which, with a parent governor on the board, deemed it "sufficient representation of parent's views and consultation with the wider parent body is not required here."
In a letter to one family Ms Landreth said a discussion on the use of cameras took place in June following "serious concerns regarding the number of costly repairs incurred through misuse of the taps in the bathrooms".
There had also been "an incident reported regarding adults in the children's toilets during school functions (with their own children) which the school considered a safeguarding concern."
The parent, who wished to remain anonymous, added: "Implying that parents taking their own children to the toilet is a safeguarding issue is offensive to parents.
"We were never supposed to find out about this. It's only when I cc'd Cllr Muhammed Butt in an email that she (headteacher Ms Landreth) put it in the newsletter."
An ICO spokesperson said: "We have received a complaint in relation to Mitchell Brook Primary School and we are making enquiries."
A spokesperson for Brent Council said: "This is a matter for the school."