Police to be 'stationed' in more schools

Police officers are to be “stationed” in more Norfolk schools in a bid to cut classroom crime. The eventual aim is to have a bobby in every school in the county to help hundreds of children steer clear of crime and suppress the menace of gang culture.

Police officers are to be “stationed” in more Norfolk schools in a bid to cut classroom crime.

The eventual aim is to have a bobby in every school in the county to help hundreds of children steer clear of crime and suppress the menace of gang culture.

Norwich's Earlham High School has become the latest to sign up to Norfolk police's safer schools partnership, which sees a dedicated officer working with pupils and teachers to help improve safety.

It joins Rosemary Musker and Charles Burrell high schools in Thetford; Oriel High, Gorleston; Sewell Park, Norwich; and Caister High.


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Now police say more are on the way across the county.

The move follows the publication of statistics showing that moves to cut violent attacks in the county's schools is reaping rewards, with the number of time weapons have been used in classrooms reduced.

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Only last month chief constable Ian McPherson revealed Norfolk's burgeoning gang culture - saying that as well as taking a tough stance to crackdown on the ringleaders, more work was needed to nurture respect in our young.

But now Supt Nick Dean, the commander of the force's Norwich area, has said that attempts to work with young people seems to be paying dividends.

He added: “I can say that we are on top of this problem for the time being, although there is no room for complacency. We have done this by working with young people to understand their concerns. It is about building trust.

“But whoever people are and whatever their affiliation, there is a line to be drawn and true criminality will be dealt with in the toughest possible way.”

One of the ways in which the force is attempting to divert youngsters away from gangs is by building trust. The safer schools initiative is playing a key part in this.

Sgt Tim Horrobin, who is in charge of the scheme, added: “The officers become part of the school and trust levels are very high. This has a number of advantages. It means we can use a restorative approach to work with children instead of creating a crime and getting them involved in the courts.

“It also means that both teachers and pupils know they are dealing with somebody who understands all the issues and therefore they know this will be treated fairly.

“Hopefully it does help children see through the uniform and that can have both short-term and long-term benefits. It might mean that a child will reveal something, such as abuse in the home, which they wouldn't normally feel able to talk about.”

The expansion of the initiative has been gradual - it has been in existence for two years - but Mr Horrobin said more resources were becoming available and other schools are showing an interest as they witness its success elsewhere.

It coincides with a steady decline in children using weapons including knives and airguns in schools after steps were taken to tackle a sharp rise.

In 2003/04 five violent crimes in which a weapon was used on educational premises were recorded, the figure leapt to 18 for 2005/06 but decreased to 15 for 2006/07 and to 12 in 2007/08.

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