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Monday, December 29, 1997 Published at 04:46 GMT


Extra £22m for school security
image: [ Cameras like this one could become common in schools ]
Cameras like this one could become common in schools

The Government has committed £22m to make schools safer by building on regional initiatives to counter increasing violence around schools.

[ image: Estelle Morris:
Estelle Morris: "Noise and vandalism trouble our schools"
Local Education Authorities in England are to receive £20m for security through the Standards Fund from April 1998, plus an additional £2m for grant-maintained schools.

The new money comes on top of an extra £6m the Government gave to local authorities for school safety this year.

The Education Minister, Estelle Morris, has also issued guidelines on the subject produced by her department and the Home Office.

"Nuisance, disturbance, vandalism and other problems are all too common in our schools," Ms Morris said.

"The guidance, School Security: Dealing with Troublemakers, explains how schools and the police can work together to deal with problems in and around school premises.

"It has been produced following extensive consultation, and has been sent to all schools and police forces."

The guidelines tell teachers that from April they will be allowed to use "reasonable force" to restrain pupils but does not give detail of when this would be permissible.

[ image: Technology also makes schools a target]
Technology also makes schools a target
Under the Government's proposals, Local Education Authorities will decide how much each school in their areas receive and what type of security projects they should spend the cash on.

The money can either be targeted at practical defences, such as closed-circuit television and fencing, or used for training.

The Education Department guidelines give a number of examples of school security practices they would like to encourage:

  • A school watch scheme in Nottinghamshire linking 33 schools.

  • A similar project in Cambridgeshire where all local authority schools keep a record of security breaches and put up warning signs to deter trespassers.

  • A series of documents prepared for schools by Derbyshire county council, which aim to help teachers cope with stressful situations.

  • A coordinated approach to incidents in schools by Greater Manchester Police who can be immediately reached by teachers using a pager.

  • Regular patrols of schools with a history of criminal damage by Hertforshire Special Constabulary.

  • A crisis line in Leicestershire to give schools help in the event of an emergency.

The Deputy General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Gwen Owens, said teachers would broadly welcome the new moves.

The Government's announcement comes after the death of head-teacher Stephen Lawrence who was stabbed outside his school in 1995 when he tried to break up an incident involving rival youths.

In March 1996, a single gunman shot dead 16 primary schoolchildren and their teacher in a school in Dunblane.

However, this latest initiative does not extend to Scotland or other parts of the United Kingdom other than England.

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