A Head Teacher in Bristol has admitted to secret filming using a spy pen to film pupils and staff in the toilets of a primary school, prompting concerns over child safety.
Examining the implications, and highlighting the safeguarding dangers caused by improved technology, Child Abuse Lawyer Peter Garsden explains the law surrounding the case.
Safeguarding policies in a time of technological advancement
Pleading guilty to three charges of making indecent images of children and two charges of voyeurism at Bristol Crown Court, Ashley Yates – who was a Head Teacher at The Tynings Primary School in Bristol – faces sentencing in August.
The 45 year-old, who is married with children himself, will likely face a jail term when he is sentenced in August.
With the case featuring undercover equipment deployed in school toilets with the implicit intention of filming pupils and other members of staff, this story links directly to how safeguarding practices need to be assessed in a time of technological change.
With camera and recording equipment becoming more discreet these issues should be addressed to ensure that children are not abused by those in a position of power.
The law around recording indecent images of children is comprehensive, despite not being updated or amended since the Protection of Children Act 1978, which outlines offences relating to taking images or videos of children.
Talking about some of the considerations that need to be made in light of this shocking story, Peter said:
“The recent discovery of a voyeur using a spy pen to record pupils in toilets must come as a great shock to the children and parents alike.”
“Inevitably, the growth in sophistication and falling cost of technology brings with it new safeguarding challenges almost on a daily basis.”
“We have seen recent cases involving compensation being awarded for inappropriate and abusive texting. Alongside this there is a group action being filed against a Bristol college after a teacher was found guilty of secretly recording pupils, so it is clear that new technologies can be exploited for nefarious means by those in positions of trust.”
“No doubt there will be an enquiry by the education authority to ascertain whether this crime, with more due diligence, could have been discovered earlier.”
“The victims of the spying should be offered counselling and be referred to specialist solicitors for help.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues highlighted in this story, you are encouraged to get in touch with our abuse team, who proactively handle all of their cases in a sensitive and confidential manner.