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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Spy cameras target school vandals
A CCTV camera, BBC
CCTV is keeping an eye on school vandals
Schools in Wales have found a novel use for their broadband connections by hooking up to digital CCTV cameras to put an end to vandalism.

Seven schools in the Newport area are currently connected to the surveillance system and it is said to have made a huge difference already.

"The first school had the system installed in January 2001 and since that time has had no reported damage," said principal consultant at Newport County Council, Phil Cox.

"Previously, there was a lot of vandalism with the glazing budget alone costing 6,000 a year.

"There were condoms, beer cans, hypodermic needles and all kinds of things that you don't want in a school environment lying around the playground," he added.

Broadband crucial

A total of 20 schools in Newport will have digital CCTV cameras installed by September.


Social services can identify where the problems lie and work with schools and communities to find something for these kids to do

Phil Cox, Newsport County Council
Although some schools have their own stand-alone CCTV systems which record any intrusions, this is the first time cameras in schools in the UK have been connected to a central network.

Unlike analogue CCTV, digital cameras use the existing broadband infrastructure, installed in the schools as part of a government initiative, to send pictures back to a control centre at the council offices.

"Broadband is crucial and it represents a good return on investment for the schools," said Mr Cox.

"They are paying 5,000 a year for high-speed internet which they only use during the day. Now they can use it after hours and have added security for nothing," said Mr Cox.

The cameras are only turned on outside of normal school hours. An alert is sent to the control room when an intruder is spotted.

Community action

If needed, Community Safety Wardens can be sent to the scene and police back-up can also be called on.

The broadband link also allows for a more co-ordinated approach to the problem of vandalism.

The pictures from the digital cameras are of high quality, allowing social workers and community teams to identify offenders and do something about it.

"Social services can identify where the problems lie and work with schools and communities to find something for these kids to do," said Mr Cox.

It also allows for immediate communication between the council and schools.

"I spotted a couple of children on a roof the other day and was able to clip images and send them straight to the school in an e-mail to let them deal with it," he said.

See also:

04 Aug 01 | UK Education
21 Feb 01 | UK Education
03 Jan 01 | UK Education
07 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
01 May 02 | Science/Nature
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