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Police go on campus beat

A Welsh college is to be the first in the United Kingdom to establish a permanent police station on campus to break down barriers between young people and the officers.

The partnership between Pembrokeshire College and Dyfed Powys Police - both have won the Government's Charter Mark for public service - will avoid uniformed officers patrolling the campus trying to stem the rising drug and alcohol culture.

Officers will wear civilian clothes and be based in a drop-in style centre where young people can call in for a chat. A trial scheme starts on the college's Haverfordwest site in September.

"We want to make the police an integral part of college life," said principal Ioan Morgan. "It is important to help build a good relationship and trust between the police and the 16 to 19 age group and overcome the barriers that often exist.

"The new initiative will also help give a safe study environment which reassures parents. This will be community policing in the best sense of the word." They will also have an educational role.

The police intend to deal with drug and alcohol abuse problems by training a number of students to lead peer initiatives aimed at tackling the issues.

Mr Morgan said the college had no worse problems than anywhere else, adding: "The problem we are faced with now is that the drug and alcohol culture is so embedded in young people in school that by the time they come to college we have to take some serious measures to try and straighten things out."

When it came to tackling the problems of security and stranters on campus which trouble many, principals believed the police presence would be more effective than video cameras.

Many colleges have tried to counter the problems with security guards and rigorous checks on visitors including occasional body searches. But these have often resulted in an alienating environment, provoking antagonism.

The police involvement in the college is underlined with the appointment of a senior officer to the board of trustees.

Acting superintendent Ian Miles said the police saw the initiative as an important one. "It gives the students a chance to see that police officers are human. In the main our role educational, but there is a crime element to it as well."

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