POLICEschoolThe Association of Chief Police Officers' has responded to claims that police shouldn't be in schools by saying they offer "numerous benefits" including reducing anti-social behaviour and identifying early signs of criminality.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 [3 Dec] chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform Frances Cook said that having a police presence in primary schools was "unacceptable".

"Being arrested is very traumatic and has very serious implications to the life of a child," she added. "Most of the cases are naughtiness and the kind of stuff that should be dealt with by parents or schools."

She did go on to praise the reduction in arrests achieved by the majority of Forces as reported earlier this week [see full story here] but suggested that police presence in schools is "counterproductive."

However, ACPO lead on children and young people Temporary Chief Jacqui Cheer has countered by saying officers are placed in schools specifically for the purpose of "preventing children and young people becoming victims or offenders of crime".

She added: "Police working with schools has numerous benefits such as reducing anti-social behaviour and criminality in and around schools, identifying and working with potential victims and offenders, intervening early to prevent bad behaviour developing into criminality and providing specific, relevant crime prevention advice. It also works to make the police more accessible to young people and can break down the barriers between police and young people that can be ingrained in some communities.

"The recent public perceptions of the police statistics show a positive relationship between police and children and young people: 89 per cent of 10-15 year olds agreed that the police will help you if you need them, 76 per cent agree the police are helpful and friendly to young people and 70 per cent agree that the police understand young people's problems. These positive figures are a result of the community engagement work that police forces undertake with young people, including within the school setting."

Posted 05/12/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com