HC Deb 30 January 2003 vol 398 cc1044-5W
Mr. Watson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent study he has made into the level of crime in proximity to schools. [90782]

Mr. Denham

Two recently published studies commissioned by the Home Office and Youth Justice Board provide an indication of the level of personal robbery and street crime in the vicinity of schools.

Recently published Home Office research ("The Nature of Personal Robbery", Home office Research Study 254, 2003) which looked at the nature of personal robbery, found that only 1 per cent. of personal robberies actually occurred on or around school or college premises, though this may be an underestimate. However, the study also found that the risk period for school age victims was late afternoon (2 p.m. to 6 p.m.) when more than half (54 per cent.) were targeted and when many were making their way home from school, or similarly socialising with friends.

Similarly, recently published research commissioned by the Youth Justice Board ("Young People and Street Crime: Research into young people's involvement in street crime"), which focuses on street crime in London boroughs in the main, found that offending peaks dramatically after school finishes on weekdays, often in the vicinity of schools or on the main routes taken home by pupils. The research suggested that even if the perpetrators had not attended school during the day, they may well gravitate back there if they have nothing else to do.

As part of the package of measures to tackle street crime and improve behaviour in schools, there are now 100 police officers based in selected schools in areas with high levels of street crime. This is a joint initiative between the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and is called Safer School Partnerships (SSP).

Safer School Partnerships build on previous police involvement in schools where police officers have tended to take an essentially teaching role; as part of an SSP their role is more operational. They provide a much fuller level of resource and will be able to develop a much closer relationship with the school and its community.

Police officers are working with school staff and other local agencies to reduce victimisation, criminality and anti-social behaviour within the school and its local community. SSPs aim to reduce crime in and around schools, so making cost-effective use of police time; helping schools improve, so parents keep sending their children to those schools; and reducing disorder, so heads can spend time improving their school, instead of dealing with behaviour problems.

The specific areas where SSPs are making a contribution to schools and their community include prevention and reduction of crime, anti-social behaviour and related incidents in and around the school, together with any bullying and violence experienced by pupils and staff, truancy and exclusion, damage to school buildings and drug related incidents.