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Introduction - Richard Robinson

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Introduction - Richard Robinson Powered By Docstoc
					 The school & the police

         building a lasting
           relationship

    right at the heart of a
         community

report completed by Richard S Robinson




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Background

Perhaps the title of this report is wrongly worded. Both the school and the
police are institutions, and therefore any project that seeks to facilitate crime
reduction and build up positive relationships, should concentrate on
individuals, crimes are committed by people. Furthermore it is debatable
whether the suggestions contained within this report are original. Many of
my findings are no doubt familiar, particularly to the police. Yet I would
strongly contend that investing time and resources in the sort of project I am
recommending will have long and lasting benign effects for local
communities. Crucially there would also be also significant progress made
towards achieving some of the key aims of the Police Service, namely
promoting safety and reducing disorder, reducing crime and the fear of
crime(1).

So what exactly is the nature of my report and what do the
recommendations entail? Quite simply, through the closer and continuous
interaction between police officers and school children, I believe that many
barriers can be broken down at an early age, which can help foster a
greater understanding and respect for law and order. The end result then?
Youngsters will grow up with an appreciation of the role of police in
society, the negative perceptions having been broken down, will in turn
create less of a willingness get involved in criminal activities. Much time
and resource is currently spent for example policing town centres at
weekends, seeking to combat bouts of drunken and violent behaviour.
Resulting out of the positive and continuous contact and bridge building
between youngsters and the police I propose, will I firmly believe, lead to
the reduction of criminal activity.

Crime of any description does not simply commence (as is believed in some
quarters) when a youngster enters a comprehensive school at age 11, where
the supply of drugs and other nefarious influences are said to be prevalent.
Children are fed images and stereotypes from the press, media and even
parents which can distort the role of the police and law and order in society.
It would appear critical therefore that good relationships between those
whose job it is up to uphold the law the police, and children are developed
at the earliest stage. Leaving constructive dialogue between children and


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the police until secondary school is too late, good relationships need to be
fostered well before this stage, in order that criminal behaviour has the
opportunity to be tackled at its infancy, rather than when it is well ingrained
behaviour. I therefore contend that particular effort should be concentrated
within the age range of five to eleven.

But surely this is all just fancy rhetoric. Where is the evidence that any such
initiative embarked upon between the police and schools would actually
work? I put my thoughts to Gurmit Kaur (Schools Liaison Officer for
Broxtowe) on 10 July this year, explaining how I wished a project/pilot to
embark from the Autumn of this year, that would not repeat or duplicate the
work done by others such as DARE, but would be positive, constructive
and provide value for money in fostering closer links between schools and
the police.

What follows is a summary from my visits to several primary schools in my
County Council division - Gilthill and Kimberley and, Awsworth Infant and
Junior. In addition, on the recommendation of Gurmit, I talked to Karen
Smith who works on Personal Social Development Initiatives, at College
Street in Nottingham, for education in the city and county.

Findings from visit to Gilthill Primary School, Kimberley 18/7/00

Met with Head and talked about my desire to see closer relationships
develop between the police and children particularly aged between five and
eleven.

1) Head saw value of such an initiative, and said that he would much prefer
   if any such development could fit in directly with the curriculum, rather
   than just the local policeman coming in for an assembly.

2) The particular value that would flow from such an initiative would be
   that
   it would certainly break down barriers. It would serve as a point of
   reference for the school, and would enable any future problems to be
   ‘nipped in the bud’.

   A couple of classes could be linked together, and by coming into a
   classroom once, or if possible twice a term, would allow a greater and in


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   depth appreciation for the children, rather than simply listening in an
   assembly. This approach would also stimulate interaction.



Findings from visit to Kimberley Primary School, 18/7/00

There was an enthusiastic welcome for the idea. The frequency of once or
twice a term was felt to fit well with the rest of the school’s activities. Here
though a visit to a school assembly would be the main contact point
between police and children. It was felt in particular that if children could
take a mentor (as a policeman) into secondary education as they would have
built up some familiarity, it would prove an excellent form of continuity,
and could go some way to tackling the behaviour and attitude problems that
occur.

Findings from visit to Awsworth Infant and Junior Schools, 20/7/00

Both heads saw the intrinsic value of the idea, the way the relationships
building up between the police and the children would create an excellent
link with the citizenship part of the curriculum.

Any sort of ‘early intervention’ scheme would be welcomed - this was not
seen as being in a passive way though. There was very much a sense of
responsibility on behalf of the children - it was not just learning about the
role of the police and breaking down barriers, but encouraging the
individual to be an active and responsible citizen in society, whatever age
they are.

Again, a visit once or twice a term would fit in well with both schools.
Apparently in the dim and distant past, something along the lines now being
proposed did start, and was extremely well received, but unfortunately
folded in the early stages, apparently due to lack of funding.

Both heads agreed that the perception that the police are only in schools
when a child is for example caught stealing, should swiftly be changed.
Such a scheme as proposed would really go some towards prevention of
crime, they thought, which of course is of paramount importance.



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Whether it was by way of drama, or visit and talk on a particular subject,
more regular contact with police, for the children was thought to be of
tremendous value.




Summary and specific recommendations

In all of the schools I visited, there was a continuous message that there was
definitely a gap existing now between youngsters between five and eleven,
and the police, that if acted upon, would in the long run have beneficial
effects for the school, police and local community.

After talking to Karen Smith who is based at College Street in Nottingham,
it was felt that a collaborative approach including use of their role play and
drama, supplied by workshop actors, to work in tandem with the police,
would provide a very effective way of communicating between children and
the police.

None of the schools sought to decry the work currently being done by
DARE, but strongly believed that a scheme such as I was proposing was
definitely needed.

The advent of the Crime and Disorder Bill offers a unique opportunity to
continue to promote programmes that aim to reduce youth crime. Any
policy committed to reducing crime committed by youngsters, whilst
complementing and building upon any existing strategies, should view
education as a crucial medium to influencing positive change towards
delinquent behaviour in the short and longer term.

Therefore I will make three proposals. I have a PLAC open meeting in the
Kimberley area in October this year, where I can say with some confidence
that some of concerns raised by the public will focus around rowdy
behaviour by youngsters. My proposals are thus;

       1) to run as a pilot for one year, the primary schools in Kimberley,
          and Awsworth, in conjunction with the police and Karen Smith’s
          teams, receive visits once or twice a term. The particular nature


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         of the programme and visit to be agreed between the local
         inspector,
         Head Teacher.

      2) to evaluate and review the progress made after a year, with the
        view to letting the project spread to other areas within the county.

      3) to sell the model as one of excellence, to be used eventually
          throughout the country as a way of working collaboratively to
         foster better relationships between youngsters and the police,
         facilitating the reduction of crime and disorder.




Richard S Robinson
Member of Nottinghamshire Police Authority             August 2000

7 Scargill Avenue
Newthorpe
Nottingham
NG16 2DZ          richard@sarah.new.labour.org.uk


References

(1) The Government Perspective on the Police Service, in Nottinghamshire
Police Operations Strategy, document E of Quality Services Committee held
on Wednesday 26 July 2000, para 1.3, p 5




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