Campus police scheme steps up

6th April 2012 at 01:00
Secondary pupils across Edinburgh will now see officers on a regular basis. Julia Belgutay reveals why

Police officers in the school playground will become a familiar sight to schoolchildren across Edinburgh as the city extends its campus police scheme to all of its 23 secondary schools.

Eleven dedicated liaison officers, funded by Lothian and Borders Police, will now be responsible for two and, in one case, three secondary schools full-time. Their job is not unlike being "an old-fashioned community cop", said inspector Alun Williams of Lothian and Borders Police.

The school link officer project was originally set up in four pilot schools in 2007, and had been so successful that they wanted "every school to have it", said the council's education leader, Marilyne MacLaren.

Chief superintendent Gill Imery added: "A lot of children never get to see police officers. They need to see police officers are just normal people and part of the local community." The success of the project could not be measured in crime statistics, and would be more long-term, she said.

In addition to being a presence at the school, the liaison officers will also be involved in teaching classes on crime, justice and drugs. They receive regular briefings from local police on crime in their area which may affect pupils, and build relationships with vulnerable pupils and their families to try to protect them from abuse, neglect or harm.

"Every day is different", said constable David Miller, the liaison officer at Boroughmuir, who will now add James Gillespie High to his area of responsibility.

"When I first joined the police, my favourite part was chasing after criminals. Now I get more of a buzz from dealing with the young people," he said. In his time at Boroughmuir, he has managed to gain the pupils' trust: "I see him almost every day and I would trust him if there was a problem," said Aaron King, a fourth-year at the school.

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