IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Whistleblower: ‘School toilets cameras are a violation’

Baby P champion to help get answers

08 November, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Mothers outside the school

A WHISTLEBLOWER in the Baby P scandal has been parachuted in to help parents in their bid to discover the truth behind why hidden cameras were installed in primary school toilets.

Nevres Kemal, who battled to expose malpractice as a social worker in Harringey Council, is lending her support to parents of Duncombe Primary School children.

Ms Kemal and a group of parents who have come together under the banner of “Justice for Duncombe Children” met the school’s headteacher Helen Ryan on Wednesday.

They are angry that her predecessor, Barrie O’Shea, who retired in August, would not also come and answer their questions.

Ms Kemal, who now runs the Raise My Voice Foundation which helps people challenge workplace malpractice, said: “These cameras are a violation of trust and a violation of children’s rights. We want justice for the children and the parents. We will not let this be swept under the carpet.”

She added: “We demand to know why these cameras were put in, who put them there, who had access to them and were they ever looked at. Barrie O’Shea should be here answering these questions.”

Mr O’Shea declined to comment when contacted by the Tribune.

The board of governors and teachers held a meeting with parents last Friday to try to answer their concerns but many parents left the meeting frustrated by what they said was a lack of information.

The school could not disclose the reasons why the cameras had been installed or who had authorised them, the parents said.

The use of the cameras was revealed last Thursday when the board of governors sent a letter out to parents which stated that the “hidden cameras” had been in operation since 2014 and the images had been periodically deleted.

The letter, which the Tribune has seen, added that Ms Ryan had reported the cameras – which faced the sinks and not the ­toilets – to the police and the council’s safeguarding unit.

A police investigation concluded that there had not been any criminal activity, but an investigation has been launched by the Information Commissioner into a potential breach of data rights.

Nese Kesen, who attended Duncombe as a child and now has five of her children at the school, said: “It doesn’t make sense for them to have hidden cameras if they were installed to stop bullying or bad behaviour. Surely you would make them big and visible?

“That makes us think there were other reasons. This is the problem.”

A Duncombe Primary School spokesman said: “Governors and the school have been cooperating fully with the ICO inquiry. We will provide further updates to parents and the school community as soon as we can.”

An Islington Council spokesman said: “We are satisfied that the school has taken all appropriate measures to prevent anything similar happening again, and we continue to support the school in dealing with the matter.”

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