Robert Ratcliff

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Rob Ratcliff was the Content and Community Manager of IFSEC Global.com. He is a self-confessed everyman in the world of security and fire, keen to learn from the global community of experts who have been a part of IFSEC for 40 years now.
June 24, 2013

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‘Secure by default’ in the age of converged security

Schools Should Have Surveillance Cameras

A poll of North Americans in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012 has revealed that the majority of people would prefer their children attend a school with video surveillance systems rather than one without.

Sixty percent of US residents and 52 percent of Canadians polled by Ipsos Public Affairs agreed they would feel that their children were safer with surveillance cameras in place. However, less than a sixth of people (16 percent in the US and 11 percent in Canada) thought that security measures undertaken by schools were well communicated.

This is perhaps why many people believed that armed guards in schools would be an effective way of keeping schools safe — 30 percent in the US and 11 percent in Canada. But the simple methods are often among the best — around 40 percent of adults in North America thought that having doors locked at all times was the most effective way of keeping pupils safe.

Speculation would suggest that the events at Sandy Hook have shaken American confidence in security in schools. Fifty-four percent of US adults polled said they are more concerned about children’s safety at school than they were a year ago. This was in contrast to 40 percent of Canadians being more worried.

The poll was commissioned by Avigilon, and spoke to over 1,000 people each in Canada and the US in late March.

Aviglon’s Brian Schmode said HD video surveillance and access control in schools are “key security measures” and that they could be used to keep out intruders, reduce bullying, and even ensure higher enrollment. One university in Sydney was able to reduce crime by 25 percent year-over-year following the installation of a new security system, he said.

In another article on Avigilon’s own website, Ned Miller, director of campus safety and emergency management at Des Moines Area Community College, explains that he believes HD video surveillance can improve safety and security in an educational establishment. The college has over 50 buildings, covering 1.5 million square feet. He said:

I think there is a good deterrent factor when people know you have good video surveillance. We don’t make any secret of the fact that we have video surveillance [and] we want people to know that public areas are under surveillance.

Miller explained that he does face questions from concerned parents about their security operations, but that it’s not something he faces every day.

In the UK, it’s been over 17 years since Thomas Hamilton killed 16 primary school children, their teacher, and himself in the last school shooting the country has seen. That incident led to the effective banning of handgun ownership in the UK. One is left to wonder if investing in high-definition video surveillance systems is little more than a warm blanket for communities where gun ownership is almost as common as car ownership. An interactive map published late last year shows shooting incidents in schools around the world since 1996. The US is by far in a way the most highlighted country on the map.

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millenium_poll
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millenium_poll

special thanks for the interactive map, Rob. it’s a shock to see how many shootings have happened since 1999. 
 
 

StaceyE
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StaceyE

@ Rob There is so much violence happening in schools in the US. I think every measure possible should be taken to avoid it, even including allowing teachers and other staff to be trained and licensed to own and carry firearms. I have pulled my kids out of public schools and have been home schooling them for several years now because they are not safe in school, or on their way to and from school. Just last year in one of our local high schools there was a child who had his throat slit by a fellow student during an… Read more »

shehan
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shehan

@StacyE – yes there is so much violence out there, we are looking at the country future generation and they need to be protected. I think this is a good idea to identify the root cause if these problems and solve them. 

StaceyE
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StaceyE

@ Shehan You don’t even want to get me started on what I think would solve a lot of these problems…lol. When I was a kid you didn’t hear about these kinds of things happening in schools. Kids had the fear that they would actually have to answer to someone if they did wrong. They knew if they stole from someone or hurt another person there would be consequences at school and at home. I knew my dad would kick my butt if I did something stupid that I knew I shouldn’t…so I didn’t. These day’s parents are afraid to… Read more »

Rob Ratcliff
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Rob Ratcliff

A line between discipline and giving your kids an easy time is definitely needed, agreed. But is that the root cause? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. There’s never one root cause I guess.

StaceyE
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StaceyE

@ Rob
I think it is usually a combination of a lot of factors, its certainly not just because a kid wasn’t punished that he went on a shooting spree. 😉 
At least I hope not! 

Rob Ratcliff
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Rob Ratcliff

I know that N America and the UK are hugely different in gun attitudes, but when a parent such as yourself is homeschooling her children because she is scared of what could happen to them in school, surely enough is enough? From this size of the pond, the ‘right to bear arms’ just seems peculiar. But the US gained it’s independence so it’s their perogative of course…

StaceyE
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StaceyE

@ Rob
Thanks for sharing your perspective. I suppose it does seem a little peculiar to places like the UK that have different attitudes toward the subject. And, to be honest, some people I know here in the US would say “why wouldn’t they want the right to own a firearm?”. 

Rob Ratcliff
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Rob Ratcliff

Most shocking to see the concentration of activity in one small part of the world (ie. North America).

JonathanL
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JonathanL

I don’t know that cameras alone would serve as a deterant or not I would lean towards not.  I think that if a system were in place at a school like sandy hook then the best result you could have had would been a little more advanced notice as he approached the school with a weapon but that would have led to a quicker response time from the local police department and a much lower number of victims.  I do not think it would deter but would definitely save lives.

StaceyE
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StaceyE

@ JonathonL I tend to agree with you. Many of the place in the US where there have been mass shootings HAVE been equipped with camera’s, and this did nothing to deter the “madmen” that were hell bent on taking lives. Notice, most of these shootings do take place in places where lawful gun owners are banned from carrying their own firearms. In my opinion, it is because people who do these things are cowards and want their victims to be defenseless. They do not want to take the chance that someone may shoot back. You don’t see anyone going… Read more »

JonathanL
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JonathanL

@StaceyE  No doubt!  The venues always play some part in it an elementary school, a high school, a mall, or a movie theatre. You hear these stories in the news and just think if there had only been a off duty cop there or licensed gun owner the outcome would have been much different.  A camera system could improve response time from law enforcement if it was monitored like it should be but in reality at places like a elementary school I doubt anyone is going to sit there and stare at screens for 8 hours.  There is also that… Read more »

StaceyE
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StaceyE

@ JonathonL Even in areas where it is legal for lawful citizens to carry concealed firearms most of these places (like the ones you have mentioned) still forbid people to carry them. A few months back there was a shooting at a mall in my home state of Oregon. There were signs posted at every entrance saying firearms were strictly prohibited. One legal gun owner disregarded that sign. When he drew his gun and aimed at the gunman, the gunman ceased firing at his helpless victims and turned the gun on himself. There could have been many more victims had… Read more »

StaceyE
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StaceyE

Oh, and by the way, there were CCTV cameras in that mall too.

JonathanL
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JonathanL

@StaceyE
Wow, yeah thats what I am talking about.  You end up in situations where you have law abiding citizens in harms way for following the law and then these people take advantage of that.  Come to think of it one of the earliest school shooting, Columbine, they have grainy footage of the perps from the cafeteria cameras.  So cameras are not going to deter the determined.

StaceyE
Guest
StaceyE

@ Jonathon L
Absolutely right. Nearly all of the mass shootings that have happened in the US have happened in places that do have at least some type of video cameras in place. I heard it said once, the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.

gbrown
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gbrown

I think there is enough evidence to install CCTV in schools to prevent and deter these bad men from any further mass shootings.

StaceyE
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StaceyE

@ gbrown
Keep in mind, most schools DO have security camera’s and systems in place (that is how we sometimes get video of these terrible tragedies after the fact); and also, its not always “bad MEN” who do these things…many times it is CHILDREN.

Robert Grossman
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Robert Grossman

There are many good reasons to have CCTV cameras in schools, but preventing a crazy — sorry, “mentally unstable” — person from shooting up the place isn’t one of them. In most — if not all — of these cases, the shooter craves publicity and recognition. The knowledge that there are cameras there could, in theory at least, further incite them to visit that school instead of one without cameras. To that end, maybe it’s not a coincidence that shootings happen in schools with CCTV. We can easily build a case for CCTV in schools. The presence of cameras can… Read more »

StaceyE
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StaceyE

@ Robert Grossman
Very good points! An irrational person is going to do what they are going to do regardless of the circumstances. Like you said, most of these “mentally unstable” people want the recognition anyway. 

BUD
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BUD

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