More police 'needed in schools to stop knife crime'

New report on knife crime 'epidemic' also says schools should be accountable for the welfare of pupils they exclude

Put more police into schools to tackle knife crime, says new report

“A large number” of the 20,000 extra police officers pledged by the government over the next three years should be assigned as dedicated safety officers in schools, a report today recommends. 

The report,  by the British Youth Council, examines the "epidemic" of knife crime in Britain.

It states: “We believe that having a dedicated safety officer in schools can lead to an improved relationship between young people and the police.

"Schools can also play a valuable role in facilitating visits by neighbourhood police officers in schools to let young people get to know the neighbourhood police officers in a calm situation in a safe environment."


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The report has been produced by the council’s Youth Select Committee, which is supported by the House of Commons and made up of 11 committee members aged 11 to 18, including two members of the UK Youth Parliament (MYPs), two youth councillors and a "young mayor".

Tackling knife crime

The Commons Home Affairs Committee last year called for a dedicated police officer be embedded in "all schools in areas with an above-average risk of serious youth violence" by April 2020.

Last year, the Metropolitan Police said there were 420 police officers with full-time roles in schools in London – up from 280 in the period 12 to 18 months beforehand. The police force aims to increase the total to just under 600.

Last year, prime minister Boris Johnson pledged 20,000 more police officers in total over the next three years.

Today's Youth Select Committee report also highlights evidence suggesting that where pupils are not in education, whether due to persistent absence or exclusion from school, they are more vulnerable to becoming victims or perpetrators of knife crime. 

Police officers in schools

It endorses last year’s Timpson report, which stated that schools should be responsible for the academic outcomes of the pupils they exclude.

But it adds: “We recommend that this accountability should extend beyond academic attainment to the welfare of fixed-term and permanently excluded pupils for the period during which they are out of education." 

Another committee recommendation is for the government to allocate schools with "adequate resources to ensure that a young person safely returns to education as soon as possible following an exclusion".

A spokesperson for the Home Office confirmed an extra 20,000 police officers would be recruited over the next three years.

He said: "The Government is taking urgent action to tackle the scourge of serious violence...We are investing in Violence Reduction Units and early intervention projects to steer young people away from knife crime.

"We are also changing the law so that police, councils and health authorities are legally required to work together to prevent and tackle serious violence."

Among other initiatives, the Home Office says it is investing more than £220 million in early intervention and prevention initiatives to support children and young people at risk of exploitation and involvement in serious violence. It also says it has invested in the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre whose work has safeguarded over 3,000 vulnerable people since it opened over a year ago.

 

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