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'Get cameraphones out of nurseries' plea

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A Plymouth-based group is campaigning for an end to mobile phone cameras in nurseries - or their "better control and management". It all depends on your point of view.

The campaign was started by Devon mother Cheryl Higgs, whose children attended Little Ted’s, the nursery which is now the focus of a police investigation into whether a nursery worker used her mobile phone to take indecent pictures of young children for supply to members of a paedophile ring.

Mrs Higgs has set up a website that has the aim of preventing staff from "being able to take their camera phones into the childcare setting". However, the website makes clear that "this is a campaign to MANAGE the use of camera phones in childcare settings. This is NOT a campaign to BAN camera phones!!!"

El Reg spoke at length with Mrs Higgs, who agreed that she was looking for a small but significant change to the law. At present, she said: "There's a lot of guidelines protecting children from photos being taken on cameras in schools, nurseries and swimming pools, but none to say staff can't take camera phones to work."

According to Plymouth City Council, best practice advice is that mobile phones should be kept in individual lockers or trays where staff might secure other personal belongings or valuables. A spokeswoman said: "All of the nurseries, without exception, responded very positively to this."

Mrs Higgs added: "We do recognise that taking and possessing an indecent image is a criminal offence.

"However, for added protection, we are seeking legislation that would prevent staff taking cameraphones on to floors where children are situated."

She is not against official nursery photos, and recognises that many nurseries now document their childrens’ progress through the use of digital photos. Nor is she against parents taking photos of their children.

It is also clear that she recognises that there are valid counter-arguments: nonetheless, she believes that this change is both the minimum – and maximum – necessary to safeguard children.

The danger, as those who have followed the evolution of the law in the wake of similar scares over children will be all too well aware, is what could happen to this campaign once it got into the hands of a local politician with a small majority to defend. ®

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