Rogue School Head Secretly Filmed Pupils & Staff In Toilet


The Law Of... schools failing in their duty of care

Responding to the news that a Head Teacher at a primary school in Bristol used a 'spy pen' to film pupils and staff in the toilets at his school, Phillip Gower – Partner at Simpson Millar LLP – discusses the incident's legal implications.

The Law Of... schools failing in their duty of care

Secret Filming

A case at Bristol Crown Court revealed that a primary school Head Teacher secretly filmed pupils and staff in the school toilets using a covert 'spy pen'.

Ashley Yates, 45, admitted charges of making indecent images of children and voyeurism, which relate to his 8 year tenure at The Tynings Primary School in Bristol.

Placing the device in toilets around the school, it is claimed that the Head Teacher filmed 6 girls, 1 boy and 2 members of staff – however continued police investigations have since revealed that there could be additional victims.

As the offender has pleaded guilty, it is likely that he will be sentenced under the Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Duty Of Care

Mr Yates has been described as "rogue" by the President of the local National Union of Teachers (NUT), however this case could highlight that the school failed in their duty of care.

This is not the first report of a member of a school's staff in Bristol using secret cameras to film students, as a German teacher at Bristol's Clifton College was jailed for secretly filming pupils last year.

Handling a group action for the victims of the Clifton College case, Phillip Gower comments on the news that another Bristol school is embroiled in a sexual offences case:

"While there are stringent safeguarding measures in place to protect children at school, it is clear that there have been some oversights here."

"The victims of these depraved crimes, as well as their families, are likely to be in a state of shock. There is an expectation that when we send our children to school they are in a safe environment."

"For the vast majority of schoolchildren across the country they are indeed in a safe environment, however, when stories like this do arise we have to look at some of the causes and evaluate how such a gross injustice has come to pass."

Seeking Legal Advice

Due to the distressing nature of this type of crime the victims are likely going to need additional help and support, with everlasting psychological effects commonplace.

Those that have been affected should receive counselling and, as Phillip explains, could seek damages to help them through a difficult time:

"While a compensation claim might be the last thing families are considering right now, and while it will never be able to undo the emotional trauma caused by this story, it can go a long way to highlighting failures."

"Claiming compensation can provide some form of closure on events and it can help to ensure that future breaches in duty of care are picked up and prevented by authorities."

"The case in Bristol is similar to a number I have dealt with in the past, with most relating to teachers spying on pupils without their knowledge."

"With a base in Bristol, Simpson Millar's Personal Injury team is able to provide the intimate and personable support that the victims of this case require."

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