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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
School beat officers tackle pupil crime
Damilola's funeral
Damilola's death shocked the local community
Police officers are being drafted into secondary schools in the London borough of Southwark, where 10-year-old Damilola Taylor was murdered.

Scotland Yard confirmed that the first school beat officer reported for duty last week at a school which has not been named.


It is about encouraging kids to know their local police officers and instilling more confidence in the police

Police spokeswoman
The scheme would be extended to all 19 state secondaries in the area in September, the Yard said.

Officers stationed in schools will manage a full-time office in an attempt to build bridges between police, pupils and teachers in the area.

They will carry out patrols outside the school gates, offer crime prevention advice and security mark property belonging to pupils.

Drugs and street crime

Beat officers will investigate crimes reported to them, hold information days on subjects including drugs and street crime, and oversee the incorporation of law and order issues into class work.

It is hoped the police presence will deter crime in schools and make it easier for vulnerable young people to report offences.

Damilola Taylor
Damilola Taylor was murdered as he walked home from school in Southwark
A Metropolitan police spokeswoman said the scheme did not represent a step towards American-style school security.

"It is about encouraging kids to know their local police officers and instilling more confidence in the police.

"We are making them available to give information and advice and they will be more accessible for both pupils and teachers," the spokeswoman said.

'Wall of silence'

The scheme may make it easier to break down the "wall of silence" that surrounded so much crime in and around schools, she added.

The initiative, which was set up in conjunction with the local education authority, had the support of head teachers in Southwark.

It was piloted last year at a school in Tottenham, north London, but not brought in across the borough.

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Police in schools
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See also:

03 Jan 01 | Education
Truancy sweeps cut city's crime
02 Dec 00 | Education
Damilola school defends its policies
29 Nov 00 | UK
A community in shock
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