Page last updated at 00:57 GMT, Wednesday, 3 May 2006 01:57 UK

Police attend 4,500 school crimes

More than 4,500 crimes in schools were reported in 14 months

More than 4,500 crimes in Kent and East Sussex schools were recorded by police in 14 months, figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws have shown.

Offences included wounding, theft, vandalism and harassment.

Bexhill High had the most with 44 since January 2005. In Medway, the Hundred of Hoo School had 42, followed by the Howard School, in Gillingham, with 36.

All three schools said they were the largest in their areas and worked closely with police.

There are a total of 975 junior, primary, secondary and special schools across Kent and East Sussex, according to the local education authorities.

An investigation heard accounts of attacks in school playgrounds with knives, firearms and lighters.

Children described incidents of drug taking, criminal damage, violence, arson and assaults.

Mike Conn
It is not all Starsky and Hutch
Mike Conn, head teacher
Bexhill High

One teacher, Maureen Dodd, said she had taken early retirement after a 19-year career because she was attacked at her school in Brighton

She told BBC South East Today the incident had left her feeling "undermined and tearful".

Education authorities and the police have said that perpetrators are sometimes non-pupils.

Bexhill High School, a specialist technology college, has 1,600 students and had the highest number of reported crimes since January 2005 among South East schools.

Head teacher Mike Conn said the school was not "crime-ridden".

He said: "We call the police when we think we need to and our partnership with police in the local area is very positive.

"It is not simply a case of policing and that blue light flashing as it comes through the door. It is not all Starsky and Hutch.

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"It is about knowing a police officer is part of our community and will carry out investigations if they need to."

He said a full-time police officer based at and paid for by the school was working with a group of students who were at danger of being excluded.

Medway Council said the statistics had not taken into account the numbers of students at the schools or the size of the school grounds and did not distinguish between crimes committed by members of the public and by students.

A spokesman responding on behalf of the Hundred of Hoo and Howard schools said: "The two schools are the largest in Medway."

He said the Howard had suffered from people using the school as a shortcut, but fencing had made a difference.

He added that the Hundred of Hoo School had recently taken steps with police and bus companies to improve the behaviour of young people on public transport.

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