Thames Valley Police commits to keeping its specialist Schools Officers

The aim is to keep young people safe and prevent them being drawn into crime and violence

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 12:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 12:23 pm

As schools return for the autumn term, Thames Valley Police and its Violence Reduction Unit have committed to maintain the provision of specially trained Schools Officers, with a view to helping keep young people safe and prevent them being drawn into crime and violence.

There are currently 18 Schools Officers operating across the force area, building close relationships with schools in their area and making regular visits to engage with young people and help educate them on issues such as drugs, violence, exploitation and abuse.

New processes have been developed for schools to receive support in disciplinary matters involving drugs or violence, with the aim of preventing exclusion and early criminalisation where possible, and instead keeping a young person in education and addressing their behaviour more positively.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Police officers in the classroom

The Violence Reduction Unit has developed resources which are delivered by Schools and Neighbourhood Officers.

These include the PC Ben storybook – written for the youngest children in school to help explain the role of the police and build trust at the earliest ages

Mini Police involves children in community events, providing a special uniform and equipment, teaching responsibility and community service

New lesson plans and materials delivered in PSHE lessons cover topics including drugs and violence

Chief Superintendent Katy Barrow-Grint

A new deflection programme aims to support schools to prevent disciplinary issues from escalating.

Restorative justice training for Schools Officers aims to achieve more positive outcomes and avoid early criminalisation

Police officers and staff are also being trained in the impact of early childhood trauma and the effect it can have on behaviour.

Ch Supt Katy Barrow-Grint, of Thames Valley Police’s Local Policing Directorate, said: “Thames Valley Police is committed to working with young people, their parents and schools to give young people a positive start in life.

“We do this through the work of our specially trained Schools Officers and also the ongoing engagement by our neighbourhood teams with their local schools.

“Together with the Violence Reduction Unit, we have a package of resources that our officers can use to educate on the difficult issues young people face and we work closely with schools to prevent young people being excluded or criminalised wherever appropriate. This helps them stay engaged in education and keeps them safe and away from crime.”

Former headteacher Tom Goodenough is education lead for the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit.

He said: “Early years engagement with young people helps to build their trust in the police and gives them the awareness and skills to manage the risks they face in a fast-paced world.

“We know that early exclusion from school or contact with the criminal justice system has a significant impact on their futures, leading to poor attainment, and there is a link to future criminality and violence. We’ve helped to develop new processes which support schools and young people to avoid this.

“We are working with partners in the police, across schools and local authorities and within our community and voluntary sector to give the very best support we can for young people.”