How body Cameras Keep Students Safe At South Hampshire School
Deputy Head Explains How Body Cameras Are Keeping Students Safe
A school in South Hampshire prides itself on fostering a culture of high standards, expectations and aspirations but operates in an area that experiences a significant amount of behavioural issues, reflected in the highest exclusion rates in Hampshire for both primary and secondary. With limited local alternative provision, the result is regular incidents of external anti-social behaviour affecting the school and the community.
To help address these challenges, the school deployed Calla body cameras on key staff members to deter bad behaviour and capture video evidence that could be passed on to the police to help prosecute offenders. We spoke with their Deputy Head Teacher about what difference Calla body cameras have made to the school and community.
“The main reason we brought cameras in was not to deal with our own students, but to deal with unknown children that came onto our site from other schools and local community. We have had incidents where children come in through the school gates and onto the site with the intention to disrupt the running of the school through verbal or physical abuse.
“We had a serious incident in October which resulted in the school having to be locked down, following an unknown male entering the school site to attack one of our students. This incident resulted in two teachers being assaulted as they tried to intercept and protect the student.
"We have also had a number of issues with local youths trying to access the site, stones being thrown, children running across the roofs of our buildings. We’ve put anti climb paint but that has not deterred them. And it’s not just a problem for us, it’s affecting all the schools in the area.
“We’ve attempted to resolve the situation through making police referrals, but if the children can’t be identified then there is very little we can do. Our CCTV system is fairly old and doesn’t capture the entire problem. So the challenge was to find a way to identify the young people and pass on evidence of the incidents with the police.
“My research started following an unknown intruder physical attacking one of our teachers and a student. So I did some initial research and came across the body cameras, and I didn’t understand why schools aren’t already using them. We were careful to say though that we were not bringing the cameras in to deal with behaviour from our own students; this is for the wellbeing and safety of our students.
"We currently have 6 Calla cameras, which are distributed to our gate staff, site team, on-call staff and myself as designated safeguard lead. We have hi vis jackets with “body worn video” written across the back to make it really clear to the public that we are recording when necessary..."
“We currently have 6 Calla cameras, which are distributed to our gate staff, site team, on-call staff and myself as designated safeguard lead. We have hi vis jackets with “body worn video” written across the back to make it really clear to the public that we are recording when necessary.
“Before we had the cameras we were referring incidents constantly to the police who kept asking for footage because our word alone was not enough to identify and convict the young people. Even with cctv footage and the testimony of staff and students it was likely the person would only receive a quiet word from the police.
“Now with the cameras I can play the video to the police, and they have been very complimentary of their use because they can finally move convictions forward with sufficient evidence, and some of the young people have even been arrested as a result.
“In the police’s opinion we’ve sped up the process of identifying the antisocial youths because we’ve got evidence of them misbehaving in public. So, they are able to layer on our evidence on top of what they have already got from CCTV in the community.
“Recently we had a young man come onto the site smoking cannabis. Before we had the cameras we would have told the police this information and giving statements on the smell etc, but not much would have been done as a result. Instead now, because of the cameras, we were able to record his demeanour and verbal interaction with staff which, coupled with our testimonials, was enough circumstantial evidence to prosecute.
“The young people in the community are starting to see that they can no longer get away with their behaviour on our premises because the police are able to do something about it. As a result, we’ve hardly had to deploy the cameras in the last month since Christmas.
“This isn’t just a huge win for our school, because it affects the whole community. The police have been able to identify and deal with the young people that are causing a lot of problems, which means of course that they are not causing issues elsewhere either.
“The reason I finally got the governors to invest in the cameras was because I was spending more time dealing with kids who didn’t come to the school than investing in our own students. I wasn’t able to adequately perform my core role because of the safeguarding issue of the kids around the school. But now I’m spending inordinately less time dealing with these incidents and I can spend more time on our students.
“Even though we’ve not had to deploy the cameras in a while that doesn’t mean we’re not using them. Sometimes the fact that we approach with a camera has the desired behavioural effect without even needing to turn it on. We’re definitely going to keep going with the cameras, it’s not something we can come back from because of what it’s done for us as a tool to safeguard our students.”