"Having CCTV can also protect staff from allegations of abuse. CCTV can also be used as evidence by the police if criminal damage occurs on the nursery site.”
CCTV in nurseries can be a divisive debate. Some believe it is a great way to increase security and safety for children. Whereas, others feel that it can be too intrusive and can sometimes be seen as an unethical form of surveillance. With many differing opinions and laws that need to be taken into consideration. The decision to implement safety monitoring in an early years’ childcare environment should be weighed with care.
If you are thinking of getting CCTV installed in your nursery, it is important to understand both the benefits and negatives, and the laws that need to be abided by in the process.
Pros of nursery installations:
With the presence of safety monitoring, nurseries can regulate quality standards. It also protects the children from harm by encouraging good practices, whilst protecting the staff and the organisation from any allegations.
For example, should a child fall sustain a small bruise, the nursery is able to rewind the CCTV footage and then show a parent exactly how their child has fallen and hurt themselves.
Certain nurseries have permitted new parents who may be concerned about their toddler’s safety to check in remotely to see whether their child is safe and being cared for properly with the intention that it can provide an element of relief and peace of mind in the initial months of leaving the child alone.
Cons of nursery installations:
Not all parents are comfortable with CCTV in their child’s nursery. Some disagree and consider it an invasion of privacy. The main point is that their children could be watched by other parents that want to access the feed.
A survey conducted by DayNurseries found that a resounding 55.31% of people think nurseries should not be allowing parents to watch their children using webcams. You can see the results in the graph below:
Some nurseries have overcome this issue by only providing access to parents whose children are currently at the nursery or by giving parents a timer with an allocated slot that they can log in to use the system for.
At Almas, when providing security installations for nurseries we advise against giving parents access to nursery footage. This is because although passwords can be given, credentials are not always deleted when children leave.
Having a feed that numerous people can access reduces security and incurs the risk of abuse, downloading and potential onward distribution.
What do parents actually think of CCTV in nurseries?
Feesh from MumsNet has found CCTV to be very reassuring:
“Our nursery had this; it was great. We limit access to 15 mins/day. Used to check-in at lunchtime, and one day saw one of my twins grab something off another plate without the staff seeing it. He has a dairy allergy, so this is a big deal. I was able to raise the issue with staff and make sure he was sat further away from others at future meals.
It was very reassuring, and it also helped me time when to collect them. The images weren’t great and only covered a limited area, and along with the 15-minute limit it didn’t feel like you were spying or anything.”
Whereas, FamiliesShareGerms from MumsNet thinks that CCTV in nurseries shouldn’t be used as a replacement for good service:
“I think it’s awful – if you don’t trust the nursery enough to look after your DC (Dear child) without being able to check up on them, you shouldn’t be using the nursery”.
Mixandmatch123 from MumsNet also has doubts and thinks CCTV doesn’t show you the full picture:
“I think webcams are a terrible idea. My child was in a nursery which has webcams, and I was watching him one day. He was all by himself not playing with anyone and he started crying. I was at work and I couldn’t concentrate all day torturing myself with images of my son crying. I went to the nursery and they showed me footage of him just seconds later laughing and playing with two other little boys. Webcams only show you a snapshot and sometimes it is the wrong snapshot! People say they are good for weeding out abusive nursery staff, but I would only put my son in a nursery in which I had 100 per cent trust anyway!”
Nanynick from MumsNet on the other hand highlights how CCTV can be mutually beneficial to both staff and parents:
“CCTV can be useful. If a child wanders off while playing outside and hides somewhere, for example, the CCTV can be quickly reviewed to see which direction the child was last spotted heading, thus making the search area smaller. Not to worry you, children rarely get mislaid, but some children can be good at hiding!
Having CCTV can also protect staff from allegations of abuse. CCTV can also be used as evidence by the police if criminal damage occurs on the nursery site.”
Use of CCTV in nurseries to protect business reputation
CCTV can provide a real benefit for nursery owners as reputational damage can devastating. Embracing safety monitoring can help to illustrate that they are confident in their staff’s quality of care. Also that they are open to providing footage to be used should a dispute arise.
There have been numerous cases where staff have been falsely accused. Both the reputation of the staff and nursery suffered as a result.
A survey conducted by FACT in 2015, found that 38% had suffered a false accusation. 28% were made by a child’s parent or family member. Whilst 50% of these allegations were resolved before being taken to the police. Ongoing trauma endured by staff members from the allegations had resulted in many leaving the profession.
One such example was the case of Robert O’Brien in 1999. He was accused of child abuse without proof and was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. He also spent 6 weeks in prison. A statement provided by Robert provides a case for the use of CCTV:
“It was horrific and even though I was totally exonerated by the court, my life has been ruined. All because few people really believe that children will pluck accusations of abuse out of thin air.”
Here are some important guidelines that must be followed when installing CCTV in nurseries:
- The installation of CCTV in nurseries should be considered and planned alongside the undertaking of a privacy impact assessment. This should clearly outline, why you are implementing CCTV, how long footage will be kept, who can access it among other considerations.
- The CCTV monitoring screens should only be accessible to senior management/ owners.
- DVR/ NVRs should be held in a locked box or room and should have a complex password to access.
- Staff and parents should be informed and given an opportunity to comment/ object if it is the installation of a new camera in the nursery.
- If used to monitor public areas, clear signage must be displayed to alert the surrounding public of its use.
- Covert surveillance should not be used unless specified by a court hearing.
If you are thinking of investing in the security of your nursery, you need to make sure that you are abiding by the laws and are protecting all vulnerable parties.
As installers of CCTV security camera systems. Almas Industries are ready to help you identify risks within your nursery and keep you on the right side of GDPR and privacy considerations. You can arrange your free, no-obligation security survey by calling us on 0333 567 6677 (UK) or 01 68 333 68 opt 2 (IRE) If you prefer, you can always send a confidential email via [email protected].