Long arm of the law needs a hand

17th June 2005 at 01:00
Police are offering teachers the chance to turn supergrass by joining them on patrols to catch pupils misbehaving during the summer.

But they will not be paid if they volunteer for the "shop a yob" programme run by Burnley police in its Operation Summer Nights.

Officers say that young people are more likely to go drinking, vandalise property and disturb residents if they know they will not be identified.

When police arrive, they flee, making it almost impossible for officers to catch them or see who they are. Officers hope their teachers will be able to recognise them. If they are identified, letters will be sent to their parents and persistent offenders could be forced to sign a behaviour contract.

Sergeant Martin Selway, head of neighbourhood policing in Burnley, said gang culture thrived on anonymity. "When you have got somebody who knows them, it reduces what they feel they can get away with. They may be more concerned about what their teacher thinks about them than the police."

But the issue has proved controversial with Burnley schools and the first patrol last Friday went ahead without any teachers.

A deputy head has pulled out of the scheme after criticism from other school leaders. But Sergeant Selway said others remained committed.

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said blurring the line between teachers and police would not help either. He labelled the scheme "a perfect recipe for undermining the teaching relationship with pupils".

Leader 22

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