Hawera believes cameras answer to vandals
PETRA FINER AND LAIRD HARPER
An extensive surveillance camera security system is being put in place at Hawera High School to help stamp out vandalism problems.
Principal Hans Konlechner said the school planned to install up to 40 closed-circuit television cameras.
The plan was initially prompted by a spate of arson attacks in the toilets two years ago and has gained support among the community.
"We've made the decision that it's in our kids' best interest to proceed," Mr Konlechner said.
"We've had an ongoing issue with not being able to provide toilets of an appropriate standard for the majority of our students, we've also had incidents of arson."
He said the whole process had been and would continue to be transparent and the decision had been after consultation with families.
"The feedback that we've had so far has been very positive - the sooner the better type comments."
The move is nothing new in Taranaki with a number of schools in the province believed to have invested in the technology.
However, those who talked to the Taranaki Daily News declined to comment on the number of cameras they may or may not have because of security concerns.
Hawera-based parent Michelle Stratton said anything that offered an "insurance policy" against vandalism could only be seen as a positive.
She said her two children had talked about the cameras but weren't concerned.
Fellow parent Rangi Abraham said he is happy to have cameras watch over his two teenagers.
"With the high school being such a big place, kids can be bullied," he said.
"I don't see it being a problem at all if they are in the right place."
While it was originally planned for cameras to only go in open toilet areas, Mr Konlechner said a delegation that visited three Auckland schools to assess their camera use had advised him the more cameras the better.
Recordings will go back to a central computer and be held for about three weeks.
The cameras would cover public areas only, including in the toilet blocks, he said.
Board of trustees chairman Grant Weir said although the school was yet to settle on a final number, they were looking to install between 24 and 40 cameras.
Mr Weir said far from a knee-jerk reaction, the school had been planning the installation for two years.
"All the homework's been done. We have looked at every angle."
All cameras will have signs identifying them and the board will check the field of view on an annual basis, he said.
Both Mr Konlechner and Mr Weir would not reveal the exact amount they planned on spending because they were about to start the tender process, but agreed it would be "a substantial financial investment".
The Ministry of Education also needed to approve and release funds for the project, Mr Konlechner said. However, Daily News inquiries have found the cameras, and related equipment, could cost between $40,000 and $80,000 to install, depending on their quality.
Wellington's Wainuiomata High School installed cameras last year and so far the results have been positive.
But principal Martin Isberg said his school had only focused on one toilet area which had simply moved the issue elsewhere.
Mr Isberg said students were now asking for cameras to cover all their troublespots.
Editorial: Page 9
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