back to article Undercover teachers to track gang members online

Teachers will be forced to become undercover homies as part of a government strategy to combat the rise of teenage gangs, the children’s minister will say today. However, this won’t mean swapping their cords for do rags and baggy jeans, rather that they will have to scour social networking sites for evidence that their charges …


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  1. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Taking Care of Delicate Flowers.

    "And if nothing else, the prospect of thirty somethings trawling social networking sites looking to get down the kids has a tendency to end in tears, embarassment, and, occasionally, court proceedings."

    It is always best to have an indelibly recorded license for that sort of sensitive work, with parameters of depth of immersion, well articulated.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Teachers converted to spies outside of school instead of making parents and police do their jobs/social roles. Like controling, monitoring and looking after their children (in the case of parents), and detecting crime/advising other authoritise/being role models (in the case of the police.)

    Don't know why anyone would want to be a teacher.

  3. Stuart Gray

    Great - another absorber of time

    So when exactly will I have time to prepare and mark lessons, given that when I am in front of my class I am 100% focussed on their education?

    Once again, teachers being expected to take on another social responsibility that parents should have, rather than performing their specific role - i.e. imparting specialist knowledge and preparing children for examinations.

  4. Rob
    Thumb Up

    An easier solution....

    .... would be as soon as they are of school age, throw them in a secure facility until they have passed their GCSE's. Tackles all the issues at once and any kid seen loose on the streets could immediately be picked up and taken away again (plus it also means we don't have to listen to their music being played through crap mobile phone speakers in public).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I be the first to say?

    "Nothing to hide, nothing etc etc etc"

    repeat ad nauseum.

  6. Steven Raith

    My current opinion of Beverly Hughes

    After this, it appears she has all the intellect, wit and common sense of a Tunnocks Tea Cake. But with none of the benefits.

    I spent nine months in a school recently [Hi Danny...], and I'd *love* to know where all these extra hours of snooping around kids social networking sites are going to come from, given than most of the teachers I knew were doing eleven hour days, pretty much every day - and that was just when they were on site, never mind when they get home.

    Seriously, someone needs to slap that dippy cow and drag her back to the real world where there are only so much resources that a school can pay for.

    *bangs head against desk*

    Steven R

  7. Anonymous Coward


    "This isn’t necessarily a barmy idea, as the nation’s young crims do have an astounding tendency to broadcast their exploits on the likes of YouTube."

    I thought that they got ASBO's stopping them from doing this sort of thing.

  8. Jay Cooper
    Paris Hilton


    What is up with this Govenrment? They really think that this is the way to go?

    I used to be a doorman, and I quit because of little knife carrying hoodie thugs. It must be even worse being a teacher. This is really going to bridge that "trust" gap.............

    Paris, as even she can come up with a better idea than this.

  9. Slaine

    A Typical Teacher's Timetable

    When is this "infiltration" exercise supposed to take place? I was under the impression that the reason for attending school was to enable people with qualifications (all secondary teachers must by law have a degree in their suject) to share their knowledge and insight with younger generations and hopefully to instill some sense of competence, inquisiveness and love for the world. In the real world however, it is more like this...

    7:05 Stiffle a scream as the alarm clock goes off.

    7:45 Rush out into morning traffic.

    8:40 Narrowly avoid "Johnny" hiding in teachers carpark smoking and letting down tyres.

    9:05 Registration - report missing pupils, lack of uniform etc double check the locker room, report offenders to office, chase up letters from parents for those who were late yesterday.

    10:15 Finally start teaching the first class of pupils - interrupted by request to do "cover" for absent teacher in a completely unrelated subject.

    10:30 Morning break - breakfast is coffee and a soft biscuit

    11:00 Deal with phonecall from local authority regarding "Johnny's" numerous detentions

    11:15 Finally start lesson, interrupted by fire alarm (Health and Safety)

    11:55 Finally get the next class settled. Attention span of class aproximately 4 minutes.

    12:15 Lunch Break - can't leave the building because all the shops are filled with kids, can't have a fag because the bike sheds are already occupied, avoid canteen because the supervisor will rope you in to watching "Johnny" again.

    13:05 Escort small child with green face to nurse - do not touch child under any circumstances, don't administer pain killer or alka-seltser. Watch child put entire pocket full of empty sweet wrappers in bin.

    13:15 Afternoon lessons begin - this would have been a break but instead there is a sea of E-numbers grinning back awaiting tuition in a completely foreign language.

    13:25 Find remote control for pre-arranged video.

    13:30 Finish rewinding tape.

    13:35 Bell goes - choas - double lesson.

    13:40 Order resumes.

    13:45 Door opens, someone says, "oops sorry" and goes out again.

    14:05 End of lesson, 15 minutes of tape still to go - abandon classroom for own department.

    14:10 Phone reception to find out if there is a reason why "Johnny" isn't there.

    14:25 Observe "Johnny" walking across playing field, so does the rest of the class.

    14:35 Lesson resumes. Attention span of class approximately 30 seconds.

    14:45 Lesson ends.

    14:50 Forty minutes to plan tomorrows lessons

    15:30 Chaos as "Assisted Learning Department" empties one lesson sooner that everyone else and the final lesson of the day begins. Sea of closed eyes.

    16:00 Buses start collecting outside, attention span of class now 3 seconds.

    16:05 Final bell goes

    16:06 Room empty

    16:07 Children vomited out of building in mass rabble racing for the front (or rear) seats

    16:45 Finish marking

    16:55 Re-inflate tyres

    17:15 Head home trying to avoid the lure of large bottle of something 40proof.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another desparate act...

    ...of a government in its death throes.

  11. Ross

    Teachers again?

    [One sure fire sign of gang behaviour would appear to be the sudden acquisition of expensive trainers or mobile phones ]

    Why the sudden tabloidism? Nobody is saying that kids with new trainers are gang members. However it may well be a trigger for further investigation. It's very similar to the guy that hasn't paid tax or NI in three years suddenly driving an Audi RX8 and wearing an awful lot of Prada. It doesn't mean he's a criminal - he way have won the lottery - but it's worth a gander.

    Kids have no or very little independant income - if they come into school with the very latest mobile phone every term it indicates that their parents have more money than sense, or the kid may be involved in something they ought not be.

    I also take issue with the comment about invading childrens private space. Since when was You Tube, Facebook, My Space etc private space? If you publish it for all and sundry to see it's public.

    I do agree that teachers should not be the first people called upon to do this job. Parents are the obvious starting point, although if your kid's in a gang it may possibly be a reflection on your parenting skills. Next up are the Police, but given the abysmal lack of skills and interest from the Police I think we can all be confident in getting nowhere down that route. Alas that seems to leave the teachers to pick up the slack in the system as usual.

    My solution to the "gang culture" issue is rather more simple, involving one telephone number, and a few extra Police officers. You see a gang causing grief, you phone the number. 30 mins later two dozen SO19 officers arrive in riot gear and break some skulls. Forget arrests etc unless they are armed - saves on paperwork. Kids cause grief in groups because it makes them feel invulnerable. A few sound beatings from faceless heavies in kevlar and riot masks will remove that thinking.

    I've nothing against kids hanging around enjoying their mates company, but when they start threatening folk, and damaging property they should be taught a swift and brutal lesson.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Private FB Profiles...

    Surely this is just going to encourage children/students to make their Facebook/Myspace pages private? Whilst this may not be a bad idea in itself, accidentally teaching children that what they put on the internet can be viewed by anyone... it won't take long before this is pointless?

    Anyway, Teachers surely have more important things to be concentrating on...? It should be the Parents responsibilities, not the Teachers.

    Paris, because shes a good teacher of what not to do.

  13. Tim

    Nice idea, but the unions will be up in arms.

    They dont like additional responsibility for no pay. Also, teachers may get intimidated and refuse to speak up.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are teachers expected to be undercover spies

    Will the government pay them extra for this? And will the political correctness police put a stop to it because it will mean targeting inner city black kids?

  15. Jamie

    A Step to Far

    It is not the schools responsibility to monitor students activities once they have left school. If the problem is during school time on school computers then easy enough block the websites using proxies.

  16. Barn
    Thumb Down

    Yet another fiasco in the making...

    Does anyone actually think this will ever work? Privacy aside, most teachers are going to be too out of touch to be able to tell what pupils are really up to...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Another RIPA use in the making...

    I'd love to see the RIPA application for this one. I wouldn't like to write it though

    * Working on behalf of an authority - check

    * Acting in a covert manner - check

    I think they're going to need one.

    Paris because she doesn't act covertly

  18. Mark W

    Because it's obviously not the parent's responsibility to keep tabs on the little darlings is it?

    That is all.

    Mine's the one the tweed with the elbow patches...

  19. scott

    "Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!

    A cynic would suggest that this is to acclimatise the young to the 24/7 prying of the State in their private lives.

    Of course, since your average 14yr old is infinitely more tech-savy than his teachers - I can envisage fun things like booby-trapped links like "me and da gang scoring some" or "Miss Simmons from English dept getting off with Mr Thomson in the boys changing room", which take the unsuspecting Teech to a or worse...

    I keep thinking "one day soon, this Authoritarian destruction of the right to privacy must end". Of course, it's just getting worse and worse.

    Anyone for a rendition of a certain Pink Floyd song???

  20. peter

    Private education

    Will Eton and others be joining in with these initiatives, Clarks shoes replacing Church's is a sure sign of gang activity.

    In fact the entire situation seems to work in reverse, the poor buy and the rich sell their possesions.

  21. Repo
    Paris Hilton


    Having once worked in Education for several years (not as a teacher thank <insert name of not offensive to anyone diety>) I can't see any school doing this even if they are legally obliged to. Schools do as much as possible to avoid enforcing (for example) the anti-bullying policy they are supposed to have so I really can't see this one coming off.

    Paris because she doesn't mind a full body cavity search...

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Whatever happened to . . .

    Four or five years back, many senior schools moved pastoral care to non-teaching teams. Why? Teachers' time is too expensive, it was not the job they were professionally trained for and they were already overwhelmed with work.

    European models of schooling show successful schools with academic focii and that social ordering and regulation is better dealt with by dedicated agencies. Not to say these agencies can't be based in school establishments - they can and are often more effective for being so placed.

    To ask teachers to do this suggested 'surveillance' on an official basis is to i) add again to teacher burdens, ii) undermine teacher student trust iii) take teachers away from their 'real job' I wonder also, if it is being suggested that teachers take on alternative identities to track these students social networking - I hope not. But to access student interaction the students would have to allow that access and would therefore know they were visible to the teacher.

    How blinkered are these decision makers?

    In anycase, is the tracking really necessary? Most teachers already have an awareness of 'who' students are and changes in their attitudes, evident in class and around schools, do raise the possibility of a slide into bad lifestyle decisions. Any teacher worth their salt will alert the relevant person to any such suspicions.

    My gripe, however, is the assumption in the article is that teachers are all 30 something. They are not! I am in my 50s and belong to several social networks. Would I tag students? Not on your life, because that means they would also have access to me! I don't think so!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I can't think of a good title

    A Typical Teacher's Timetable - By Slaine.

    HAHAHAHA!! Brilliant. There was a time where all of my mates were dating teachers. Lots of stories like this.

    Back on subject – I think the proper Stalinist (oops, NuLab) approach should be to encourage the little darlings to snitch on each others’ activities. It shouldn’t be teachers however, it should be an entirely new set of local Government employees. We have Town Hall undercover spies for just about everything else; bins, dog-poo, in-van “no-smoking” signs – why not legions of retards whose job it is to ensure the young don’t engage in unsociable activities? Sure, you could say that should be the parents, or even the cops - but a dedicated kiddie police would be better.

    Was it Bevan who envisaged a “cradle to grave” health service?? Looks like NuLab will be remembered for bringing in cradle-to-grave surveillance services…

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Another Daft Idea

    Great in theory, teachers know what's what anyhow, without having to do any extra research.

    Teachers lack the time and the resources to do anything outside of school hours, they already do enough with the marketing and prep that they have to do!

    However, what's clearly lacking is that the authorities that have to deal with these kids do fuck all to punish them.

    I recall speaking with a security guard at a magistrates court about some kid that was using other peoples cars at 12 and was getting banned from driving for a year or two at a time, despite the fact he couldn't legally drive.

    They'll give a kid 100 years in the slammer for "hacking"...but they won't touch a kid with a knife in his left pocket and a gun in his right.

    Fucking daft if you ask me.

    //Paris...because I had a couple of teachers that were hotter than her that I would have liked to make some videos with...

  25. Luther Blissett

    Women in (very hard) labour

    Words failed me, and then I remembered... Horace.

    Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Plain Crazy

    As a former teacher, I'd suggest that no teacher should go anywhere near t'internet or any other form of technology.

    All it takes is one attention seeking kid to make an allegation and you're screwed.

    In my case it was an initial accusation of harassment by electronic means, then it mysteriously turned into a child porn allegation. That was enough for a magistrate to sign a search warrant, without any evidence whatsoever, which lead to me being suspended from teaching for 5 months (and since I was working as a supply teacher at the time = zero pay) and practically every bit of electronic equipment being removed from my house.

    After many confrontations with the police (things like: "return everything you illegally removed from my house, KVM switch) I eventually got everything back. But now on my Criminal Records check it now says that I was investigated on a child porn charge but there was a "negative result".

    Yeah. It sure was a negative result. I had to give up the profession because no-one would employ me with that on my record. Innocent, but with a black mark against my name. If only they would actually do a better job at finding and locking the real perverts up for ever...

  27. Tonto Popaduopolos

    When will teachers fit this activity in?

    Perhaps during the six months of the year when they are on holiday!

  28. Steven Raith


    When I was working in the schools, we weree replacing all the IT equipment over the summer holidays as it was the only time we had.

    We could only have the network down for five days total - the rest of the time, the teachers are in marking, creating coursework, reviewing student performance, etc [most of which requires the network to be avaiable obviously.

    You utter, utter retard.

    Steven R

  29. Paul

    not on faceparty they can't

    without lying about their age!

    seriously, has the government finally lost the final dregs of reason?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Plain Crazy

    Problem is real perverts are so rare and far between they need to trash normal peoples lives in order to look like they're doing something.

    Sadly you seem to be a fine example of our great nations approach to handling this issue. Just another innocent tossed to the side like so much flotsam in an insatiable hunt for monsters in the closets.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, schooldays...

    Even in my day, we kids were using ciphers.

    Even if most of 'em were about as secure as a wet dish-clout.

  32. Roger Paul

    Just plain stoopid

    So what exactly are parents for? Isn't it the ultimate responsibility of they who spawn to monitor their spawn's behaviour?

    I hereby motion for the word 'Government' to be replaced with 'Team Retard'.

  33. Steve Liddle
    Jobs Horns

    Teacher friend doing 3 hours overtime per night

    All of it unpaid marking the kids books with nice comments, all they want is a tick, they have to give a detailed breakdown in case they are inspected at a later stage and can lose their jobs....

    Suspect they will not get many volunteers :)

  34. Tania
    Black Helicopters

    @Slaine & Plain stupid

    Slaine, hahaha your timetable made me chuckle but I believe you forgot to continue the timetable to 23:00 when you've finally fnished marking, lesson planning, answering this suggestion by the over-zealous Head and that allegation from Jonny's chavvy 50-a-day parents.

    @Plain stupid poster, my sympathies. A dear friend was in a similar situation and has suffered the same as you. I know for sure his accounts were comprimised because the little darlings attempted to add me to their msn convos too (amongst other things)

    I was asked by the investigator to give an account both as a "victim" of these little turds and as an expert* in the field. I prepared a lot of evidence with times, diagrams and screenshots to prove my friend was completely in the clear....and it was subsequently ignored (cos let's face it, having made all that fuss and spent all that money, they can't then admit it was the little shits after all - especially when one of the little shits responsible was a governer's child)

    My point is that the Plain Stupid post is 100% correct - these people would be setting themselves up for both career and social suicide if they were to go ahead with this latest government brain fart.

    *not self appointed expert, just compared to them I am!

  35. Tonto Popaduopolos

    @ Steven Raith

    "You utter, utter retard"

    In my day retard was a verb not a noun.

    I wouldn't say "You utter, utter wank" but I would use the word wanker.

    How times have changed but one thing remains constant - teachers do have an awful lot of time off. They also never seem to be able to fit in all this extra training during the periods they are off. They seem to insist on an extra day off either before or after a school break.

  36. Anonymous Coward


    "teachers do have an awful lot of time off"

    Please let us know how you feel qualified to be making such a bold (inaccurate) statement.

  37. Tonto Popaduopolos

    I am as qualified.....

    ..... in all things as many contributors on The Register.

    I perhaps wrongly assume that Raith and AC 13.37 are the same person as they both seem to resort to name calling. I also assume that he is a teacher.

    If not then we are on a level playing field.

    I have had four children, the two youngest still at school. My neighbours are both teachers and appear to work the same hours as I do each day. They also appear to HAVE AN AWFUL LOT OF TIME OFF! Therefore, I stand by my statement.

    As a foot note I think that 'the boyz and girlz of the hood' are really not the sort of kids that bother attending school that much.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Ah Teachers and time off ....... give me a break

    Get real - Tonto Popaduopolos has it bang on and we all know it!

    HOWEVER: I'm only writing this on the understanding that no-one shows it to my partner - please!

    My partner is a teacher and she structures her life (well ours actually) around her 'Not-actually-at-school-teaching-but-still-being-paid' time. She's onto a good thing and we both know it - she often asks how I manage work 10-12 hours/day, everyday ALL YEAR ROUND without all those months of paid holiday time.

    Yes, marking and preparation etc can be a real drag in the evenings, and yeah, she does pop in during holidays - but she is at home an awful lot, far far more than me. Bloody hell, they even pay her to go skiing with the kids and she has a blast.

    @ Steven Raith

    Exactly how often did your networks require reconfiguration? .... every holiday? You must have done a pretty crap job as they're never more than a few weeks apart!

    And with regard to that insulting "utter utter retard" comment: Is this how you speak to your pupils? I had a teacher like that and he was an utter utter bastard! (Bastard being a noun). I hope he's as miserable now as he made me then. What is it about teaching that attracts so many people with a high BQ (Bastard Quotient)?

    Tonto evidently struck a nerve - but then the truth hurts doesn't it?

    Just stating FACTS from MY experience, nothing more.

  39. Jay Zelos


    On the Norfolk schools network "Social Networking" (filtering list) is blocked even for teachers. Students are in school to learn and teachers to teach and I don't see that changing any time soon. If parents wish to permit access to MySpace, Bebo, Facebook etc. at home, then they need to accept the responsibility for monitoring it's use.

    I wonder how long before every public worker is tasked with monitoring his or her neighbours behaviour on behalf of the state?

  40. Anonymous Coward

    @Tonto and supporters

    Ok, first up, I'm not a teacher but for some bizarre reason lots of my friends have chosen to become teachers.

    Mental if you ask me, it's got to be the most thankless job on the planet. Firstly we have monkeys like you assuming that the school holidays are used by every teacher for lounging by the poolside - every teacher I know (and that number is in double figures and spans the whole country) has to use that time to plan, to take the little darlings on Govt approved trips, attend meetings regarding the latest OFSTED lunacies...

    Secondly, why in <insert polictically sanctioned deity's name here> name does anyone think that teachers should be responsible for "policing" this country's worsening gang culture? What's next - nurses policing knife crimes, shop keepers "covertly monitoring" car crime?? Let's get the right people doing the right job!!

    Thirdly, ok, the "retard" comment may not have been necessary, but retard is a noun as well smart-ass, try picking up a dictionary and checking your facts before you start attacking someone.

    Skull and crossbones because all sense and reason is dead in this nation's Govt.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    I'm a Tonto Supporter...

    ... I still don't believe what some people are saying about working through their holidays to the extent that they supposedly do.

    I think what's closer to the truth is a lot of teachers talk up how much work they actually do so they don't appear to be on an easy ride, who would knowingly admit in a group of friends they had a shed load of time off and got paid for it, when your mates have just been talking about how hard they have been working and the number of hours it involved.

    If your teaching in the FE sector it gets even worse, they have even more time off and an easier ride because apparently they shouldn't be marking work on little things like spelling etc.

    The one thing you should be grateful to teachers for though, is they keep your child occupied for a large part of the daylight hours.

  42. Tonto Popaduopolos

    AC 10.54

    I have neither said that teachers should monitor kids in this way nor that every holiday they take involves lounging by a swimming pool!

    I did say that in my day retard was a verb and not a noun. This is correct though it has subsequently come to be used as a noun by the dunces produced by the teachers in question.

    Said teachers are too busy arranging their next sojourn (that means holiday, vacation or break) to be worried about their pupil's inability to string coherent thoughts together. You've got to laugh, I am.

    Mine is the one with smart-arse (not ass) on the back.

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