[holding answer 20 July 2009]: We are working with local partners in expanding the coverage of Safer School Partnerships (SSPs) to become the norm rather than the exception.
Through the Tackling Knives Action Programme we have invested more than £3 million on initiatives to keep children safe in and around schools, including Safer Schools Partnerships (SSP). There are now more than 5,000 Safer Schools Partnerships in operation.
In 2005, York university carried out an evaluation of Safer Schools Partnerships. The partnership is a formal agreement between schools and police to work together in order to keep people safe, reduce crime and the fear of crime and improve behaviour in schools and their communities. Key findings from the evaluation showed that SSP schools:
Have sought ways of identifying and working with children and young people at risk of becoming victims or offenders.
Have reduced truancy rates and helped total absence rates in relation to comparison schools.
Have an environment in which pupils feel significantly safer than their counterparts in comparison schools.
On 11 May 2009 the Home Secretary and Ed Balls, Secretary of State for the Department for Children Schools and Families, launched the new SSP Guidance and DVD to provide advice on what constitutes a Safer School Partnership, the benefits, how to set up and how to maintain an SSP.