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'Campus cops' get the thumbs-up, finds study

"Campus cops" in Scottish schools were initially greeted with mistrust by teachers, pupils and the local community, but are now highly valued by all parties, according to a report published this week by the Scottish Government.

Research by Ipsos MORI, completed in summer 2009, showed that it cost just over pound;2 million in salary costs to have 55 officers in 65 schools across Scotland. Recent reports from some local authorities, however, suggest that they may be under threat from budget cuts.

The report found that school staff and police shared the view that campus cops helped increase the feeling of safety for pupils and staff and cut serious indiscipline, physical violence, and gang and criminal activity.

"It was clear that some educational staff were reassured by the campus officer's presence when dealing with incidents of physical violence," the report said. "Group work (targeted at challenging children and children at risk) was considered particularly important. The activity itself was not as important as the opportunity it gave pupils to receive the kind of attention that may have been lacking in other aspects of their lives.

"Information-sharing with educational staff and other agency workers was also viewed as an integral part of the campus officer role."

Some 64 per cent of funding for campus officers comes from the police, 30 per cent from local authorities and 6 per cent from community planning partnerships.

John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, who, in his former position as director of education in Aberdeen put the first "campus cop" in Scotland into Northfield Academy, called for community partnerships to take on a greater proportion of the funding.

"The main benefits are in reducing crime, so it would be a reasonable thing for a community planning partnership to pick up the bill," he said.

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