Fears over violent incidents at schools

POLICE were called out to deal with violent incidents at Suffolk schools nearly 100 times last year - nearly one visit every other school day during term time.

Laurence Cawley

POLICE were called out to deal with violent incidents at Suffolk schools nearly 100 times last year - nearly one visit every other school day during term time.

The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and have triggered calls for teachers to be given greater powers to “nip discipline problems in the bud”.

Although Suffolk had one of the lowest call-out rates of the 25 forces which responded to request for information, the 97 violent incidents police were called out to in the county still amount to nearly one call out in every two school days.


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Keith Anderson, Suffolk secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NAS/UWT), said violence - both verbal and physical - was a concern for its members.

He said a NAS/UWT survey carried out for the east of England revealed staff were either verbally or physically abused by pupils once every seven minutes.

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“There are still high incidences of this happening and our members feel concerned about it.”

Geoff Barton, headteacher at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, said the county's schools had much better working relationships with police and said the figures were not a sign of increasing violence in schools.

“Most schools when you go into them are an oasis of calm and these figures, in my view, are a sign of a genuinely closer relationship between schools and the police.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “The police service works closely with schools in the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Suffolk police works through safer neighbourhood teams, Police education partnership officers and more recently the Safer School Partnership pilot to engage with young people and develop a positive relationship with them and their schools.

“Together we work towards diverting young people from criminality, challenging unacceptable behaviour and promoting a safe and secure school environment.”

Nationally police were called out more than 7,000 times last year to deal with violent incidents, something described as “very worrying” by the shadow children's secretary Michael Gove.

He said: “Teachers, parents and children are all too aware of the threat of violence in schools and the corrosive effect it has on creating a safe learning environment.”

He warned that teachers do not currently have sufficient powers to nip discipline problems in the bud.

But the Association of School and College Leaders claimed the Conservatives were “scaremongering” and said police were being brought into school more often because they now worked more closely with schools.

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