Knife crime: Met to double number of police in schools

The Metropolitan police are planning to increase the number of officers working full-time in schools in London, as concerns grow about a surge in knife crime. The Guardian reports.

Deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons told an inquiry into knife crime there were 420 police officers with full-time roles in schools in the capital – up from 280 12 to 18 months ago – and that the aim was to get the total up to just under 600.

The use of officers in schools, though supported by many headteachers, has been seen as controversial because of concerns about the appropriateness of police in an education context, potentially gathering intelligence on young people.

“We need young people to see the police not just as the person who stops them in the street and searches them, even though that may be an absolutely proportionate, legitimate thing to do, but also as someone who can become familiar to them, who can be approachable, who can engage with them day to day within school. It’s a really important part of our approach.”

He said police were also offering a “schools watch” programme, providing safe routes for pupils making their way home after school between 3pm and 6pm, when young people are known to be particularly vulnerable. So far, 78 schools in London have taken up the offer and 40 have turned it down.

The deputy assistant commissioner was giving evidence at a one-day inquiry into knife crime by MPs on the education select committee. Also giving evidence was the former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, who said stop and search had to be used sensitively because it alienated some groups in society.

Wilshaw said on the rare occasions he had excluded pupils as a headteacher, he was often “committing them to a miserable few years afterwards. We realised very quickly even if they went to a decent pupil referral unit … they were in great danger of being drawn into crime.”

He said he believed school funding cuts had led to an increase in exclusions. Previously, schools would have been able to afford to run a therapeutic or learning support unit on site for challenging pupils, who would not have to be excluded. “I could not afford that facility now,” said Wilshaw.

Read the full article Knife crime: Met to double number of police in schools

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