School mobile phone ban mooted

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Schools in West Lothian could become the first in Scotland to rule out mobile phone cameras in the playground if council leaders agree to a ban.

The council’s education committee is considering a mobile phone report. There is concern over the use of mobile phone cameras to take pictures of pupils without their permission.

The ban is being proposed in the interests of “safety, security and well-being”. A decision is due to be taken on Tuesday.

Council deputy leader Willie Dunn said the ban would deal with the challenge of new technology.

“We are proactive in addressing this issue in the light of new mobile phone technology and we believe we are acting responsibly,” he said. If it is approved by the committee we hope it would get the backing of parents.”

Mr Dunn said the ban would prevent pictures of pupils being used “inappropriately”.

Other councils in Scotland leave individual schools to take action where necessary, but Mr Dunn said a ban would protect all West Lothian pupils.

A spokeswoman for the council said protecting children’s safety was paramount. She said: “Parents and children have a right to know what pictures are being taken of them and how they are being used.”

David Eaglesham, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said there was no alternative but to ban mobile phones in schools.

He said: “It is a serious problem because it is a whole new dimension of technology. Previously when someone is taking a photograph they had obvious equipment but with mobile phone cameras it is difficult to see if someone is doing that or not, so it’s hard to legislate.”

Mr Eaglesham said police had warned that paedophiles usually transmitted images across the internet. He added: “So if mobile phones are used it would add to the potential availability of images – if you can capture the image you can distribute it.”

Many mobile phone companies warn against using mobile phone cameras to distribute material to websites.