Saturday, November 04, 2006

Police in Schools

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However the funding ran out and he was withdrawn.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.


Anonymous said...

I wish we had out own Plod. Being able to search kids suspected of stealing or drugs would help us no end.

Anonymous said...

After 26 years of teaching can it really have come to the stage where we need the Police in our schools?

Sadly it has, because nowadays we have absolutely no means whatsoever of making the worst kids do anything at all. All we can do is bluff and hope for the best.

Give it a few more years and the Police won't be able to control them either. That's the way we are heading. I feel so sorry for those who are just starting out in this once respected profession

Poison-Dwarf said...

Its a very sad sign of the times that we need police in our schools at all but you are right, we do need them. So many young people now have no respect or fear of authority.

Anonymous said...

A very sad sign of the times that it is necessary that a police presence is needed in schools. The majority of teachers are to blame for this, as they support the political philosophy that lead to the current social breakdown. Hence, I feel a certain amount of schadenfreude when I see grolies (guardian readers of limited intelligence in ethnic skirts) weeping when their authority has just been shat on and feck all *can* be done about it.

Anonymous said...

I worked in the US for 3 years, my room-mate worked in a high school that had 1 full time police officer and were in the process of getting city funding to hire another. As a teacher, she did not feel it was her responsibilility to break up the fights between the mexican gang members, the bloods and the cribs, search her students and confiscate their drugs or frisk them for weapons.
I have to agree, no part of my teacher training involved criminal investigations and I don't see why I should be expected to deal with the mountains to paperwork that a criminal investigation seems to generate.

Anonymous said...

My Head Teacher has censured me for being "confrontational" with pupils because I stood blocking the doorway to my classroom where I was conducting a detention and prevented a pupil from entering the room to disrupt the detention and remove her sister because I "aint got no right" to stop her, as far as she was concerned. The horrendous make-up plastered, multi-earring wearing, totally out of uniform, obscenely foul mouthed creature deliberately barged into me to try to move me aside. When I refused to be bullied into changing my mind she left; later she and three other girls made up a cock and bull story about me pushing them and the moronic, barely literate parent wrote an outraged letter threatening legal action to the school.
After an "investigation" the Head told me I should not prevent pupils from doing anything in future.
I truly feel there is no hope.

Anonymous said...


"...the Head told me I should not prevent pupils from doing anything in future."

and there we have the problem in a nutshell. We're more or less powerless to do anything anymore, except act as a scapegoat.

If you can't even enforce a simple detention, how can you ever be expected to run a classroom - Yet, apparently it's all out fault for "not telling pupils, or enforcing, the 'rules'"

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Max, we the police have already lost control of the kids. We have no power over them either. Unfortunately the same kids you want us to be able to punish are the ones who see being arrested and (eventually) having an ASBO as a badge of honour, therefore nullifying the threat of arrest. Although I will grant you that there is a fair amount of satisfaction in arresting one of them after hearing the immortal words "You can't lock me up, I know the law..." even if nothing ever happens with them after that.

Anonymous said...

Mr Chalk, Just read your blog tonight for the first time, excellent. I'm a policeman and my wife is a teacher of 12 years. She now has a copper in school part time of course and this has apparently broken down some of the barriers between us and the pupils but then you have the flip side. Recently my wife was accused by a pupil of assault because she put her hand on her shoulder to lead her away. As expected the idiot parent backed up the complaint even though there was no truth whatsoever the matter still had to be investigated. I could not do your job, at least I can arrest the little buggers and inconvienience the parents slightly even though as mentioned earlier, if it goes nowhere after.

Anonymous said...

I agree, should be more police in schools!

On a different note, this is great fun for all those educationally minded out there...

alanorei said...

"It's about time common sense was reinvented and started to filter back down through our society."

Good comment. There is only one (or at least one) problem.

Sense is not common.

I have only read the extract from Mr Chalk's book as yet, in Wasting Police Time and have not finished PC Copperfield's book but the events described therein and on their respective blogs reaffirm that conclusion.

I do have some suggestions for a way forward but they are definitely not 'pc.'

Anonymous said...

I've been watching this discussion with interest. It's a problem we face over here in the States, too, and it's made me think about the differences between going to school now and going when I was a kid. It even made me blog my own thoughts.

I, too, see ways forward and agree--none of them PC.

PC Bloggs said... hi/education/6121880.stm

This story is interesting. It suggests that literacy rates sky-rocket when the pupils get 1-on-1 tutelage.

Funny that, I used to get 1-on-1 tutelage on my reading all the time... by my parents.

Why is everything now for the school and police to sort out? Can't parents help with their kids' education?

Anonymous said...

No, deliriousdoris - I'm the other one. And I'm sure there are still a few more lurking under rocks just in case they're accused of some terrible crime or other. Abusing our kids by exposing them to books maybe? Or encouraging delinquency by taking them into a restaurant in Paris where they drink (shock, horror) wine for lunch? Or even explaining (how dreadful!) that the funny smell in that coffee bar in Amsterdam isn't coffee?
Fortunately my son has steadfastly refused to grass me up and only reads in secret and pretends not to know the words to "Abide with me" and the National Anthem. In school he lies and says he watches TV all night.
And I'm Anonymous, just in case....

I Teach Interactive said...

Robert A. Heinlen in the original book of "Starship Troopers" (not followed accurately by the film) discusses the logic of corporal punishment. The gist being that it works on the most basic level of survival. You don't need to have higher thinking skills, you don't need to to be able to empathise with your victim, have a sense of morality of your actions, or follow a reasoned discussion about why your behaviour was bad. Corporal punishment comunicates at your survival instinct level, and everyone understands that.

We teachers often quote Maslow, but is the answer to discipline perhaps there too? Because corporal punishment works on the bottom level, it works for all.

Not saying I want it back schools, but maybe, just maybe for some crimes.

Non PC. But CS?

Anonymous said...

I am a School Based Police Officer in a Northern town. The system only works well when we have a joint effort between the school staff, SMT and Police. I'm based between two schools. In one school the SMT take a firm approach to discipline and the school rules. In this school I only deal with criminal issues and provide back-up to staff. In the other school the SMT is spineless and ineffective; they don't speak to either staff or students and will not condone any school sanctions that might impact on the report they have to send to the LEA. In this school I'm expected to deal with the most trivial of incidents - because few staff want to get involved. Guess which school is over-subscribed? And guess which one I wouldn't send my worst enemies child to?

Anonymous said...

And Doris & Anon, I'm crawling out from under my nice warm rock to admit to what probably amounts to child abuse. My children read books (there, I've said it, My name is Jo and I'm a responsible parent), play musical instruments and generally have a good time. They have no 'issues' nor do they mug passersby for their i-pods. If, as has yet to happen, the school tells me that they are misbehaving then I will level my pointy finger at them first and only when 100% certain that they're blameless will I challenge the school (which is a spectacularly successful comprehensive) And yet their education is constantly disrupted by kids who really should face the business end of a policedog. I'm truly sorry to say this (and have donned flameproof underwear as a precautionary measure) but for most of us ordinary parents, permanent exclusion is the only appropriate sanction for the dismal, no-hope offspring of the don't-give-a-damn cretins who just don't seem to understand that education matters. Let teachers teach those kids who want to learn and leave the rest to the criminal justice system which is where they doubtless are heading. Schools shouldn't have a resident Mr Plod as an interim measure. If a child needs the attention of a police officer then they shouldn't be in school.

Anonymous said...

Police no longer ask battered wives permission to prosecute violent husbands, and teachers should not be asked whether violent children should be prosecuted.

Adolescent children are trainee adults, and should be learning the limits of acceptable behaviour. Allowing children to be violent does them no good in the long run.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Well, that's it then - sterilise the Chavs (and their parents, just in case they get ideas), abolish the most extreme ends of the Welfare state, and expel all weak SMTs from our schools.

That should do it. Did somebody say something about 'political will'?

Anonymous said...

Arresting a 12 year-old for nicking a mobile from a fellow pupil seems a bit excessive, I have to admit; really small-scale offences like that are the kind of thing a suspension and a letter home should cure long before the police needed to get involved.

Anonymous said...

After having read James' comment, I felt compelled to reply.

The age of criminal responsibility is 10 years. More often than not these 12 year olds already have a long list of offences under their belts.

On far too many occasions when I have had to attend a local school to deal with a wanna-be criminal, the comments from the kids run in the vein of "you can't touch me, I'm only 8", "you can't do anything, am not 10 yet and I can do anything I like".

THese children know the age of criminal responsibility and the appropriate police lingo relating to it...

Trying to talk to the parents is like talking to a squathouse. Lights are on and the noise is deafening but nobody is opening the door.

Mr. Smallcock said...

Children who misbehave should be treated like animals who misbehave, give it the old learned association stuff. I never try to reason with the dog when it poos or chews the carpet. Id be mortified if the animal rights types pushed through laws that meant we couldnt chastise our animals because of a few weirdos who abuse them. Imagine the chaos and smell if we couldnt rub their noses in it? What if these devil dogs are only biting babies because they come from a deprived hosehold where violence is the norm and instead of putting them to sleep we just tried to 'understand' them and meet their needs. Chaos.