Story from BBC NEWS:

Pupils face camera phone ban
Mobile camera phones are being banned at all secondary and primary schools in the West Lothian area.

The local authority agreed to the plan in the interests of "safety, security and the well-being" of pupils.

Some 30,000 children in 11 secondary and 66 primary schools will be affected.

The move, made on Tuesday, means West Lothian has become the first local authority in Scotland to introduce a ban on camera phone mobiles.

The policy has been supported by the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association which fears that images could be misused by paedophiles.

Its general secretary, David Eaglesham, said: "It is a serious problem because it is a whole new dimension of technology.

"Previously when someone was 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.

"Once the image is out it can be used and misused.

"It is possible for kids to use them in the shape of bullying but perhaps more sinister than that it can be used by paedophiles.

"If they get their hands on these images then there will be a great problem."

Mr Eaglesham said the police had warned that paedophiles had made use of images which they obtained in a variety of ways and were usually transmitted 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.

Anecdotal evidence appears to show the phones are an irritation in the classroom.

No evidence

English teacher Larry Flannigan said: "I think they are linked to children noising each other up - someone falls asleep in class, and someone takes a photograph and starts showing it around the room.

"I have seen one or two incidents where kids have been annoyed at being snapped on the stairs or in the gym hall."

West Lothian Council has admitted it has had no reports of incidents where the mobiles have been misused.

But it said it wanted to do something now before the issue became serious.

Carol Bartholomew, the council's convenor of children's services, said: "We have a responsibility to protect people.

"I think one of the problems with mobile phones is that when you have an ordinary camera you can see someone taking a photograph.

"With mobiles you can be totally unaware of someone taking a picture."

Other councils in Scotland have policies of leaving individual schools to take action where necessary.

Published: 2004/03/02 12:02:34 GMT