Freedom of Information applications by the Guardian newspaper reveal that in 2021 twenty-three police forces have deployed officers to work exclusively in schools, and a total of 683 of these Safer Schools Officers have so far been allocated and assigned.
Duties range from advising teachers on safety and security; stop and search procedures; and active surveillance of students suspected of being gang members.
Originally a feature of inner cities, the Safer Schools Officers can now be found in all areas of the country, particularly as a response to the emergence of “county lines” criminal networks. According to some commentators the presence of police in schools can have unintended effects in creating a culture of low expectations and an atmosphere of hostility. However, defenders of the police presence point to their role in preventing and detecting, as well as promoting positive life choices.
The former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw commented on the growing presence of police in schools saying:
“They can be a good thing – make pupils and staff feel safer – but it all must be appropriate. The school must always strive to ascertain facts about misbehaviour before even thinking about asking the police to speak with children.”
The most effective way of tackling criminal behaviour in schools is not to let it become established in the first place. Best practice in school security includes an all-encompassing monitored CCTV system, stringent access control (including biometric controls) throughout educational sites, and rigorous training of staff in security procedures. Some schools choose to introduce security guards in school-branded uniforms as a less-ominous alternative to having police officers on site.
GBSG are experts in school security. Perhaps we can advise your school? For a free no-obligation review of your school’s security contact us on 01775 821100