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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Police 'not patrolling playgrounds'
Police want to improve relations with pupils
Police in schools will not be patrolling playgrounds and enforcing discipline in the corridors, says a police spokesperson.

Such images of uniformed patrols tackling violence in inner-city schools are being played down by police involved in a pilot project in south London.

Concerns over youth crime and government initiatives to tackle young offenders have focused attention on the police in schools scheme.

Police in the London Borough of Southwark have been running a pilot scheme for almost a year, which has allocated a beat officer for each secondary school.

And the scheme is to be extended to include 44 police officers in schools in 15 local authorities across London.

But a spokesperson says that the intention has been to "re-invent the village bobby", rather than to see the police as targeting young villains.

So far the police in schools have not arrested any pupils, says the spokesperson. Although one of the participating schools, Archbishop Michael Ramsey College has recorded a sharp decrease in incidents reported to the police.

The crime reduction at the school has been measured at 95% - but these figures are based on only a handful of cases.

The pilot scheme followed talks between the police and Archbishop Michael Ramsey College, after there had been cases of pupils being attacked on their way to school.

The police in schools pilot project has provided 11 beat officers for 25 secondary schools in Southwark, the south London borough in which the schoolboy Damilola Taylor was murdered.


Each school has a designated officer, who might visit each day or two or three days a week, depending on the needs of the school.

The majority of these police officers are not based in schools, but in local police stations.

"We're very keen to dispel the idea that this is about patrolling playgrounds. We want to support schools.

"We would make such patrols if necessary, but that's not what it's about," said the spokesperson.

But the police will become involved in tackling problems such as bullying.

The school beat officers, who wear uniforms but are known by their first names, have been trained in mediation and will speak to both alleged victims and offender, and will seek to stop anti-social behaviour.

The police want to help build up a more positive relationship with young people in schools, providing a familiar face and a reassuring presence.

And they will be patrolling outside schools to help cut down on street crime such as mobile phone thefts.

"If there were any serious incidents, they would be investigated in the usual way ... but this is an attempt to restore the image of the village bobby."

See also:

09 Apr 02 | Education
Teachers welcome police in schools
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