More than 400 schools now have their own Police Officer either based at the school or on call. We used to have one and he was great. He knew many of the kids' families (in a professional capacity) and provided our pupils with the only positive impression of the Police that they had ever had. Usually their encounters with the law involved one or more of their 'parents' being dragged away whilst screaming, swearing and fighting with a current lover, uncle, neighbour or both.
From my point of view (although sadly not all of the staff) he was useful for two other reasons:
1) He had the power to search pupils whom we suspected of carrying weapons or drugs. Obviously some would be found not to be, as I am not Sherlock Holmes. Their 'parents' would invariably complain and make threats involving solicitors, lawyers and other words that they could not spell.
2) He had powers of arrest. He very rarely used these but the sight of him frog marching Shane out of school is one that stuck in many pupils' minds.
However the funding ran out and he was withdrawn.
Let's see what the experts have to say for our entertainment:
Shauneen Lambe, director of 'Just for Kids Law' is outraged that a van full of police arrived to arrest a 15 year old boy. (Doesn't say what he'd done or if he was carrying a weapon) Given the pitiful list of approved restraint methods that the Police are allowed to use, I would have sent a coachload. She is concerned that these criminals will find it harder to get a job than their honest counterparts. Hmm...
Not to be outdone, the Time Educational Supplement is shocked to find that a 12 year old was arrested for stealing a mobile phone. Maybe they don't think that stealing is a criminal act any more.
There is a genuine concern amongst those whose job it is to be permanently concerned; that misbehaviour which would once have been dealt with by the school is now ending up in court. This is simply because we no longer deal with it.
There is also a concern that we are criminalising young people. I would say that they are criminalising themselves by committing crimes but then what do I know?
Police in schools. We shouldn't need them but we certainly do in a lot of places.