Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Police placed in all city schools

Roundhay School, Leeds
Teachers say the police will help them drive home an anti-crime message

Every secondary school in Leeds is to have a dedicated police officer as part of a drive to cut crime.

Eight of the city's 38 schools will have a full-time police presence. Another 16 officers will cover the remaining 30 schools.

More than 250 offences were committed in Leeds schools in 2008, figures show.

Although officers will be able to arrest and search pupils, West Yorkshire Police stressed they would focus on education not enforcement.

The 24 officers involved in the project will support lessons on weapons and drugs awareness, citizenship and personal safety as well as tackling issues like bullying, absenteeism and truancy.

We are trying to make sure that we are providing a safe environment in which all our children can learn
Jean Clennell, Roundhay School deputy head

They are undergoing training and will join up with their schools over the next few weeks in what is believed to be the biggest scheme of its kind outside London.

Ch Supt Mark Milsom, the lead officer for the Safer Schools Partnership, said the scheme would "ensure every pupil in Leeds has the opportunity to receive extra support they may need...and steer them away from offending".

"Our schools are very safe places to be and by working even closer together we can ensure that both our schools and the local communities within Leeds become even safer," he said.

The launch of the Leeds Safer Schools Partnership follows a previous project where 11 officers shared responsibility for several schools across the district.

'Highly recommended'

Ch Insp Mark Busley said: "The schools which took part previously enjoyed real benefits from the extra support and closer contact with officers, including developing good examples of dealing with issues which can affect pupils in all schools.

"Rolling this partnership out across the district is designed to ensure that all pupils and schools have the opportunity to benefit from this."

Jean Clennell, deputy head teacher at Roundhay School, said: "We are trying to make sure that we are providing a safe environment in which all our children can learn.

"Developing a good working relationship, especially with the police service, has assisted us greatly.

"Schools have a lot to gain from establishing a safer school partnership and we would highly recommend this approach."

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