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EDITIONS
Monday, 17 February, 2003, 11:46 GMT
School vandals loophole closed
Teenagers
Heads will be able to control access to school
A legal loophole which made it difficult for schools to stop trespassers and vandalism has been closed.

Rights of way which passed through school campuses have made it difficult for head teachers to protect their premises.

But the Department for Education and Skills says that, with immediate effect, schools will now be able control access to their grounds.

All the work we do to ensure security can be undermined if we do not have the choice about who comes onto the school grounds.

Mike Evans, head teacher Trinity Church of England School, which has been burgled 10 times

Under previous rules, the education department said that head teachers could be "powerless" to stop people misusing rights of way close to schools.

Now schools can apply for such rights of way to be closed or diverted, where there are concerns about the path being abused by vandals or thieves.

"It is a totally unacceptable situation that headteachers are not able to control who comes onto their school grounds," said the Minister for Young People and Adult Skills, Ivan Lewis.

"Pupils and teachers have an absolute right to feel safe and secure and that is not possible when loutish behaviour is allowed to go on."

Arson fears

The changes could offer greater protection for schools such as the Trinity Church of England School in Hulme, Manchester.

This school has a right of access which has made it vulnerable to break-ins - and has contributed to 10 burglaries at the school.

The head teacher, Mike Evans, said that the safety of pupils and teachers was "paramount".

"But all the work we do to ensure their security risks being undermined if we do not have the choice about who comes onto the school grounds.

"I am pleased that these new powers have come into being and if necessary we will look to use them."

Apart from thefts and vandalism, schools in the United Kingdom have also been affected by a sharp increase in arson, estimated at about 16 attacks on schools each week.

See also:

17 Dec 02 | England
03 Sep 02 | Education
01 Oct 01 | England
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