Recent events in several schools, including the tragic events in Sandy Hook in the United States, have raised the profile of school safety issues, including the use of video surveillance. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Newfoundland and Labrador recently released a set of Guidelines for the Use of Video Surveillance Systems in Schools which will be of interest to schools and school boards in other jurisdictions. Along with similar Guidelines issued by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario provide assistance in developing policies to deal with the difficult balance of the privacy and security issues raised when video surveillance technologies are installed in schools.
Other assistance can be obtained from a number of school boards who have already developed such policies. For instance the Eastern School District in Newfoundland and Labrador already had a Policy as does School District No. 34 (Abbotsford, BC) and the London District Catholic Board. A number of other Boards also have policies that will provide useful guidance.
The principles that apply to the development of a policy on video surveillance in schools will also apply to surveillance on school busses. In the Yukon Territory, for instance, the policy applies to both schools and school buses.
In all cases, the focus of a policy needs to be the protection of privacy rights as balanced against the right of students to physical security and the protection of property.