PUBLISHED: 16:14 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:20 22 November 2019
Parents are seeking legal advice after a primary school in Neasden was found to have breached Data Protection legislation by not telling them there were CCTV cameras in the children’s toilets.
Cameras were spotted by unsuspecting parents taking part in a coffee morning tour of classrooms at Mitchell Brook Primary School in September.
An email from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) said the school’s leadership failed to notify parents they were installing CCTV cameras in the toilets and failed to put up appropriate signage alerting the children.
Parents launched a petition to have the camera’s removed gaining more than 100 signatures and are now seeking legal advice as they believe their children’s privacy was breached.
Muna Castronova, who has a nine-year-old at the school, said: “The school was obliged to carry out a consultation with the parents under the Data Protection Act and they failed to do so. this shows a complete lack of respect for the laws which are in place to protect the privacy and human rights of our children.
“Despite the school being found in breach by ICO, it still refuses to remove the cameras or apologise to parents for not telling them so we have decided to seek legal advice.”
Parents complained to the school on September 11, three days after the cameras were spotted in a Year 3 toilet and 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.
The email sent by ICO states that the school advised them that “the footage will be encrypted and only accessed by restricted individuals in a secure area” and “will only be viewed in the event of an incident, that it had restricted recording to the washbasin and that “footage will be deleted” after 30 days.
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It added: “We therefore consider the school to have complied with its obligations in terms of its management of the CCTV and retention of the footage.”
However, the email continues: “We do consider the school to have infringed Data Protection legislation as it could have done more to notify parents of its intention to install CCTV in the toilets.
“This would have provided parents the opportunity to raise concerns and provide an opportunity for the school to address those concerns.”
It added that “insufficient measures were implemented to ensure users of the toilet were informed that CCTV was in use.”
Headteacher Theresa Landreth has consistently refused to tell this paper why parents were only informed after complaints were made and said the school’s response would be on their Twitter feed.
It accuses this paper of “misreporting” information, an accusation the Brent & Kilburn Times strenuously denies.
In our exclusive story on November 7 we reported that one camera was fixed on a toilet cubicle directed on the sink. We never said cameras were pointing into the toilet cubicles.
The letter to families on Twitter added: “The decision to install the cameras was a unanimous decision by the governing board.”
An ICO spokesperson said: “After looking into this case, we have provided the school with data protection advice and decided no further action was necessary.
“However, a record will be kept on file in order to build up a picture over time of the way the school handles personal data.”