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Partners in raising pupil awareness

A prime example of the much-vaunted collaboration to beat crime in and around schools is provided by a partnership between Hereford and Worcester County Council and West Mercia constabulary.

Two months ago they launched the Safe Schools Initiative - a blueprint targeted primarily at local schools to get teachers, children and their parents involved in the security issue.

The first of the key principles is a modest "quick-fix" solution built on safety guidelines and a school safety certification scheme designed chiefly as a device to allay the concerns of parents.

Signing up to the SSI involves a running a safe school group, set up to explain and guide on school security, which involves children, parents, teachers and other users of the school.

Underpinning the philosophy of the scheme - that security of the school should be dealt with at grassroots level - schoolchildren are taught the key principles of security as an integral part of the curriculum.

With the aim of increasing awareness of the security issues "fun learning" includes studying a scale model of the school buildings and a video by a local drama group focusing on the victims of crime.

The lessons form part of homework which aims to draw parents into the learning process. Andrew Lamb, education industry liaison officer of Hereford and Worcester, said: "The philosophy of the SSI scheme has been to come up with a logical process to produce a simple, cost-effective solution which will stand the test of time.

The commitment by West Mercia constabulary involves training their officers and providing diverse advice from a range of experts from crime prevention to the architectural liaison officer who advises on design modifications to deter criminals.

"Because police have a range of expertise it is very useful to have them involved in the process" Mr Lamb said.

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