Half of British Columbians prefer cameras in schools

You can find them in almost any public place these days. They keep an eye on roads, parks, and businesses, but do surveillance cameras belong in the classroom?

New research that suggests half of British Columbians are actually fine with the idea.

Polling done by Ipsos Reid Public Affairs for Avigilon, a leading high-def surveillance company, finds 50 per cent of us would prefer our kids or the children of our friends, go to school with cameras, over a school without any.

David McKay runs BCIT’s Forensic Video and Surveillance Technology lab and isn’t surprised by the findings. “I think what’s happening is schools and school officials are realizing that video surveillance systems can be one of the key pieces in order to provide safety in schools and for children.”

But he does admit there is a fine line to walk here. “There’s a reasonable expectation of privacy and that needs to be weighed out based on… the added value of the security that is going to be [there] so that information is secure and it’s only used for incidences where the evidence is required.”

For those who still have misgivings about cameras in the classroom, McKay maintains even if surveillance doesn’t act as a deterrent, at the very least it provides documentation for police, if and when trouble strikes.

On the other hand, more than one-quarter surveyed believe having doors locked all the time is the most effective measure.

Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus doesn’t think cameras belong in the classroom just yet.

“We’ve had this conversation over the years and really a feeling that we don’t want to go down that road of creating a sense of fear, whether it’s metal detectors and locking all the doors or putting in cameras,” she explains. “Our schools are some of the safest places for students to be.”