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Every school may get its own bobby

ALL schools could be assigned their own police officer for five years under plans being considered by the Youth Justice Board.

More than 100 police officers have already been stationed in schools as part of the Safer Schools Partnerships initiative, funded by the Department for Education and Skills.

Sir Charles Pollard, acting director of the board , which co-ordinates reforms of the youth justice system, said that early evidence from the project suggested it had been a highly successful way of cutting youth crime.

He said each officer would be responsible for more than one school: "It wouldn't be in every secondary school or every primary school but in each group of schools - which could be a secondary school and perhaps two or three feeder schools."

Sir Charles, a former chief constable, said police had been so impressed by the early projects that they wanted to expand the scheme, even without more DfES funding.

He said: "The police would be there to re-establish a culture of better behaviour and after around five years we hope that schools would have all the tools they need."

In its annual report this week, the board said that schools needed to do more to stop young people from being excluded, but recognised that headteachers faced "conflicting priorities" because they also had to protect the majority of pupils from bad behaviour.

The board reported on successes with restorative justice projects, where young people who have been involved in bullying or other misbehaviour are brought together under the supervision of a mediator to discuss their offences and resolve problems.

It published new figures which showed that the number of young people in jail has fallen by a tenth since October because of successful preventative schemes and alternatives to custodial sentences.

A spokesman for the DfES said the Government wanted to wait for the results of an independent evaluation of the Safer Schools Partnerships in the autumn before expanding the scheme but had been pleased by the initial feedback.

The YJB Annual Review 20022003 is available at www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk

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