Westminster Uni puts CCTV cameras in Muslim prayer rooms without consultation

26th Feb 2016

Nadine Osman

The University of Westminster has been accused of infringing students’ privacy after it installed CCTV cameras in Muslim prayer rooms “and Multi-faith quiet rooms” without consulting the Students Union (UWSU) in September 2015.

The move was exposed by the student newspaper The Quintin Hogg, which said the cameras were installed in all prayer rooms and multi-faith quiet rooms as a “policy decision” and that there was “no clear signage” to warn students they might be observed.

University officials say the CCTV camera installation is designed to “protect students and staff ” in “an approach adopted by other public institutions around quiet spaces, such as hospital chapels.”

A spokesman for University conceded that “there was no prior consultation” with student bodies before the cameras were installed.

But the University insisted that, “It was not the University’s intention to cause alarm or offence.”

“The University held a meeting with the Students’ Union and as a result additional measures were put in place to make sure that the privacy of female students would be respected. This means that any footage can only be viewed by a female senior staff member. The University has a clear and transparent CCTV policy, which can be freely accessed on our website.”

However UWSU President, Jim Hirschmann, said in a statement: “The cameras were implemented without our input and as a Union we are naturally concerned about the privacy of our members and have made our opposition clear to senior University staff.”

He added: “The lack of understanding leads to a lack of trust, some anger and frankly a degree of fear.”

It is believed that the decision to install cameras in the prayer rooms was made following an alleged assault over the summer.

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