Talking security cameras have helped curb crime at a north-east primary school.
The innovative CCTV system – the first set-up of its kind at a school in Scotland – was launched at Peterhead’s Clerkhill School in 2009 after a spate of vandalism problems.
The primary was worst hit in 2007 when a wheelie bin blaze spread to the building and engulfed part of the nursery section, causing around £100,000 worth of damage.
Aberdeenshire Council decided to trial new CCTV units which scare off would-be troublemakers with a disembodied voice booming out from the darkness.
Security guards manning the units are able to instantly scold vandals or raiders via loudspeakers which have been installed around the building.
New figures released by the local authority show that the cameras have helped cut vandalism by more than half.
There were 24 incidents at the school in the council’s 2008/09 financial year.
In the following 12 months there were 12 call-outs, but only one of those after the new system went live in September 2009.
Throughout 2010 there were only 11 incidents – including six broken windows and two for internal damage during school hours.
A spokesman for the local authority said: “There has been a definite reduction in damage and costs and there is a case for continuing with the use of the system.”
However, there are no plans to instal similar schemes at other schools.
Elsewhere in Aberdeenshire, standard CCTV cameras were recently fitted at Newburgh, Meiklemill at Ellon and Lochpots Primary at Fraserburgh.
Aberdeenshire Council also upgraded the existing set-up at Peterhead’s Buchanhaven.
In the last year, portable CCTV units were used on 41 occasions at 37 council-owned buildings.
A total of 25 security camera images were passed on to the police in 2010.
Britain’s first talking CCTV cameras were introduced at 20 sites in England in 2007.
The Clerkhill cameras are in protective metal cages and have been placed out of reach of vandals.