By: NATASHA SMITH
A TOTAL of 1,200 state schools across Portugal will have CCTV systems installed this year as part of a 30-million euro investment programme, according to the Ministry of Education.
Bids are now open to decide which company will be chosen to install and maintain the systems. The new scheme forms part of an overall Technological Education Plan to invest in the state-run schools by “providing more technological equipment and making the facilities safer”.
According to the government, the CCTV systems will be used primarily to reduce the incidence of nocturnal burglaries in schools as the number of robberies of computers and other equipment has dramatically increased in recent years. However, the government has said that the CCTV systems will be on during the day as well as at night.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education told The Resident: “The aim is to reinforce security at each of the schools as well as protect technological equipment, including computers, digital boards and video projectors, which will be acquired as part of the overall Education Plan.”
CCTV systems will not be installed in primary schools as they are all managed by the câmaras, or any schools in Madeira and the Azores. Therefore, children from the age of 10 upwards in these schools will be captured daily on camera.
The 30-million euros of government funds will be used to “install, maintain and support the system as well as the safety services and monitoring”, according to the Ministry spokesperson.
The bids for the contract to operate the CCTV system will only be open to those companies that are “licensed” to operate in the private, home and public security sector.
Bids will be open until March 14 and the Ministry of Internal Affairs hopes to have the system implemented by the end of this year.
Critics have warned that there needs to be strict regulation of the CCTV systems as many children could be placed at risk. There has also been criticism that this violates Portuguese privacy laws.
The use of CCTV systems in schools is a reflection of what is going on in the rest of the country. Many cities have requested CCTV systems to monitor the streets and protect civilians but the government has been reluctant to allow this due to privacy laws. Ribeira, in Porto, has been the first city to be allowed to install a CCTV system and currently has 13 cameras, which are monitored by the police.
However, restrictions have been placed on the operating times of these cameras. They are only allowed to operate between 9pm and 7am, which will safeguard the privacy of residents and visitors.
When stored, the faces of all the people on the footage will be covered or blurred. Only in certain cases, for example if a crime has been committed, can the police clarify the images.
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