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Crime: Schools

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps she has taken to reduce crime in and around schools in (a) England and (b) Stockton. (189339)

Nationally, the Government are committed to improving the life chances of children and young people, by having fewer young people affected by crime and reduce youth victimisation.

The main initiative to tackle crime on and around school premises has been the Safer School Partnerships (SSPs) originally launched in 2002.

SSPs are a successful mechanism for ensuring structured joint working between schools and police, to identify and support children and young people regarding as being at high risk of victimisation, offending and social exclusion. There are now about 500 SSPs of one form or another across the country. Evaluations have shown that they are proving effective in improving behaviour and attendance, developing strong and positive relationships between the police and young people, and to help young people develop a sense of being part of the local community.

Because of the proven success of SSPs, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has been working closely with the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Youth Justice Board (YJB) to encourage more schools and police to engage in this type of early intervention and preventative work which is so vital to achieving the outcomes we are all committed to.

There is already a great deal of work going on across Government to tackle offenders and help vulnerable young people achieve the Every Child Matters outcome to ‘Stay Safe’. Initiatives include Youth Inclusion Support Panels and the Youth Inclusion Programme. And since 2004, we have invested over £45 million in Youth Offending Teams which have pioneered antisocial behaviour prevention activities for young people at most risk. Their work includes:

Youth Inclusion Support Panels and;

Youth Inclusion Programmes.

The Home Office has invested in other prevention programmes such as Positive Futures. Around 22,000 young people are currently involved in Positive Futures projects nationwide.

The Youth Taskforce has also been established at the Department for Children, Schools and Families to focus on delivering positive outcomes for young people. The Taskforce is focusing more on preventing teenagers from experiencing serious problems—such as being drawn into youth crime and antisocial behaviour.

In Stockton, the AntiSocial Behaviour (ASB) team in Stockton borough council is working closely with schools to reduce crime in and around school premises. The ASB team consists of seconded police officers, a fire officer and council officers.

The emphasis is very much on preventing crime in the first place and building relationships with young people before crimes are committed. Each ASB officer covers specific wards in Stockton and works closely with schools in their area. They visit schools in uniform to encourage young people not to accept crime and to report it when they do encounter it.

Where there is a case of crime or antisocial behaviour in or around schools, the ASB officer will go and speak to the young person at school.

Where appropriate, a form will be completed detailing what they have done and their parents will be informed.