Schools are being urged to install closed circuit television cameras to improve security in the wake of the murder of London headteacher Philip Lawrence.
The Home Office has launched a Pounds 15 million 'CCTV challenge" competition to provide up to 10,000 more cameras for local communities, including schools, provided they can show that the system will also benefit the rest of the area.
Under the scheme, schools will have to compete for grants with hospitals, car parks, shopping and community centres. Approved schemes must have police support.
Some schools have already installed CCTV with positive results. The latest is the 1,400-pupil Copleston High School in Ipswich which installed cameras linked to monitors and video recorders last week.
Wollfe Powell, the deputy head, said the decision had been taken as a result of the killing of Mr Lawrence, who died of stab wounds after attempting to break up a gang of youths outside St George's Catholic School in Maida Vale last month.
Mr Powell said the cameras had already had a marked effect on reducing the number of trespassers at the school. Eight cameras have been installed at a cost of Pounds 10,000.
A 15 year-old boy has been charged with the murder of Philip Lawrence and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm on a 14 year-old boy. Five others have been arrested.
One 14 year old will appear at Highbury Corner youth court on February 6 charged with conspiring to cause GBH and the other four are on bail while investigations continue.
The Department for Education and Employment has issued guidance on security, giving case studies which showed dramatic results: one 346-pupil inner-city primary school suffered from arson attacks, vandalism and break-ins but, in the two years since installing the system, incidents have stopped completely.
A 730-pupil secondary in north-east England spent nearly Pounds 9,000 in seven months repairing damage caused by vandals, including replacing around 100 broken windows.
In the first year after installing cameras, the repair bill was reduced to Pounds 300. The system paid for itself in less than two years.
Sussex Police have produced a guide, Security Standards for Schools, in response to headteachers' concerns about crime and vandalism. It gives advice on walls and fences, vehicles, buildings, alarms and handling cash Details of CCTV Challenge from the Crime Prevention Agency, 0171 273 26103113. CCTV Surveillance Systems in Education Buildings, Building Bulletin 75, HMSO Pounds 5.00. Security Standards for Schools, from Sussex Police, 01273 475432.