§ Mr. Boswell
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what steps he is taking to assess the threat to security of school premises arising from adjacent public rights of way. 
§ Jacqui Smith
[holding answer 25 October 1999]: We treat the issue of school security very seriously and support measures which make schools a safer and more secure environment for pupils and staff. The Department's Working Group on School Security, which includes a representative from the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), has specifically highlighted public rights of way across school premises an issue to be addressed, and is aware of some local cases. The recent DETR consultation paper, Improving Public Rights of Way in England and Wales, accordingly invited views on proposals to enable highway authorities to divert or close public highways where to do so would protect the safety of the public. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, will announce decisions in the light of the consultations on this in due course. The Department also continues to provide specific grant for school security measures under the Standards Fund: a total of £22 million per year is available specifically for school security improvements, which may include security fencing and other access control measures in order to prevent intrusion.