Heads to get advice on tackling troublemakers

14th March 1997 at 00:00
Headteachers will be urged to agree school security plans with police in an attempt to improve child protection and response rates to incidents.

New advice to be issued to schools by the Department for Education and Employment will stress the importance of developing constructive relationships and sharing intelligence.

It emerges from concerns that the Crown Prosecution Service and magistrates did not take school security seriously enough. The CPS decision not to prosecute without "useful and reliable" evidence has frustrated many headteachers who have had to deal with troublemakers.

The advice, to be contained in a document entitled Dealing with Troublemakers, is likely to go out for consultation at the end of the month.

It has been drawn up for the working party set up by the Government after the murder of London headteacher Philip Lawrence.

The document will deal with the law on trespass, non-violent and violent offences, carrying and using weapons, and drug-related incidents.

It will stress the importance of schools and the police developing common understanding, and make clear that headteachers must give the police sufficient information to allow them to make informed judgements.

Lord Cullen, in his report following the massacre at Dunblane - when Thomas Hamilton murdered 16 children and Gwen Mayor, their teacher - urged that schools should not be turned into fortresses.

He said there was no blanket approach to improving security and added: "Whatever measures are to be taken it is unrealistic to expect that the risk of a violent intruder gaining access to a school can be eliminated."

Last year a conference on school security revealed that the police could do little to help schools because trespass was a civil offence and not liable for prosecution under criminal law.

Lesley King, co-director of Stantonbury Campus, a 2,400-pupil grant-maintained comprehensive in Milton Keynes, told the conference that there had been three attacks by strangers on students that year.

It is understood that the Dealing with Troublemakers document has the support of the Association of Chief Police Officers, which is a member of the working party on school security.

Pauline Latham, chairman of the Grant-Maintained Schools Advisory Committee and also a member of the working party, said: "It is important that schools are aware that when they call the police they have sufficient information.

"It's no good schools saying it won't happen to me: Dunblane could have said that, and look what happened."

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