A Decade After Dunblane- Are Our Children Safe In School?
The Home Office Safer Hospitals and Schools Programme evaluated by PRCI Ltd, a spin-out company from the University, and funded by the Treasury Invest to Save Budget (ISB) reveals that schools have a poor understanding of crime and disorder problems at their site.
Hospitals too do not have a full picture of crime on their sites because data is not properly recorded. Efforts to reduce crime, therefore, cannot be fully effective as the scale and precise nature of the problem is not known.
Kate Broadhurst, Head of Research at PRCI Ltd said :”A lot of money is being spent on IT equipment in schools; much of the equipment installed is high value, portable and desirable. However, school security measures have not been improved to address the increased risk, indeed in many schools security is poor or non-existent and as such provides an easy target for offenders.
“It seems that school security is not taken seriously; these issues do not take priority because they are not measured in league tables and funding has not been made available for schools to address security issues. More needs to be done to improve the school security.”
The study identifies simple measures that can be taken to reduce the impact of crime and make schools safer for staff and pupils. The report cites examples of crime-beating initiatives that actually work; for example a secure perimeter fence can have a significant impact on crime and disorder and the fear of crime, where CCTV failed, say the researchers.
“In one primary school not only did it stop trespass, criminal damage, and the opportunity for burglary and theft it also improved the school dramatically. The school grounds had been used by local youths as a skatepark which lead to a lot of vandalism, criminal damage and litter. Parents would drop their children off in the morning to find broken windows and glass in the playground. Now that a fence is in place money can be spent on buying up to date play equipment for the children and improving the grounds without worry that they will be destroyed.”
The PCRI evaluation also found technology can be used to address bad behaviour from within the school. In one deprived secondary school controlling student exits and entrances and their movement through the school using access control lead to a significantly improved climate, helping teachers to regain control over problematic behaviour.
The study found that monitored CCTV was effective in the short term at reducing trespass and criminal damage, however in the long-term these effects deteriorated. It is likely that the one off capital cost of a good quality perimeter fence will be more cost effective than the ongoing revenue costs of a monitored CCTV system.
Alex Jelley | alfa
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