US-style police presence to be introduced in city schools

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Officers will work in the capital's schools

A SCOTS council is introducing a US-style police presence in all of its high schools.

Edinburgh will have 11 officers working full time in the city’s 23 high schools in a bid to combat crime, bullying and exclusion.

From April, officers will supervise lunch times and end of day, take part in after school activities with pupils, as well as being a permanent feature around the school itself.

Edinburgh says a pilot of the scheme in 2007 proved successful, with feedback from head teachers, senior staff members and local members of the community all being positive.

But a spokeswoman denied the permanent police force was an admission of out of control crime levels at Edinburgh schools.

She said: “That is not the reason. It is not about crime enforcement, it is more about crime intervention.

“City Education Leader, Councillor Marilyne added: “The scheme is not about crime and discipline, it is about building valuable positive relationships between young people and the police. The officers can help assist with youngsters that are most at risk of truancy or bullying and provide oppertunities to tackle these issues at an early stage.”

The council say the involvement of the officers in day-to-day school life will provide young people with the opportunity to have contact with the police in “stress-free and non-confrontational situations”.

Feud

Cllr MacLaren said: “This is a great project that is highly valued by all involved.  It provides an opportunity for police officers to show a friendly face and build up positive and non-threatening relations with young people.

“As a result of the pilot the police schools link officer is no longer viewed as threatening and harassing by youngsters, but as someone who is on their side.”

She added: “I strongly believe that all children should be in school, where they can learn, thrive and reach their full potential and not be wandering the streets.  School Link Officers help us to reduce truancy and exclusion which affect all our schools.”

Chief Superintendent Gill Imery said: “Officers will split their time between schools, establishing relations and integrating with staff and pupils at key times throughout the day.

“The scheme has proved highly successful since its introduction in 2007, and has resulted in improved relations between the Force and young people, as well as a better standard of behaviour from pupils.”

The police officers will also look to build up networks with the local primary schools, to help establish early relationships with younger pupils.

A 2002 survey of Scottish school pupils found that almost half the young people aged 11 to 17 had reported committing at least one criminal act.

A violent feud between gangs at two schools in Glasgow in 2011 led to 13 pupils being arrested.

In January 2012 three pupils at Inverkeithing High School, Fife, appeared in court after posted racially abusive comments about their teacher during a discussion on Facebook.

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