School violence rising in Suffolk

ALLEGATIONS of violence by Suffolk's schoolchildren have more than doubled in four years, according to police figures.

Colin Adwent

ALLEGATIONS of violence by Suffolk's schoolchildren have more than doubled in four years, according to police figures.

Last year officers went to the county's schools 3,533 times - equating to 93 calls a week over 190 school days - to deal with various crimes.

Attempted, or actual, violent offences accounted for 121 of the calls, as opposed to 52 comparable incidents in 2005.

A further damning snapshot of how assaults are spiralling among children is illustrated by year-on-year figures showing a rise of 23% from 2007 when there were 97 allegations of violence.

Ninety-three of the alleged 2008 victims were aged under 16, while 19 were adults. The ages of the remainder were not logged by police.

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The figures were revealed by Suffolk Constabulary after a Freedom of Information request by the East Anglian Daily Times.

Among the accusations against pupils aged 15 or less were 55 actual bodily harms, seven grievous bodily harms, three threats to kill and one offence of administering a poisonous/noxious substance. A further seven allegations involved racial assaults or racially aggravated harassment

Suffolk County Council said it has a raft of measures in place to try to deal with problems.

Nick Wilding, children and young person's health and safety manager at SCC, said: “All schools have behaviour policies and will offer a range of support strategies and interventions for dealing with challenging behaviour. Suffolk offers a behaviour support service organised through a network of 12 pupil referral units.

“The sanctions available to schools are wide-ranging from normal basic disciplinary sanctions, through detention and so on through to temporary or permanent exclusion.

“If an event is sufficiently serious to warrant referral to the police, it will be up to the police to determine the extent of any action taken, including legal action if appropriate.”

Mr Wilding added the council has recently provided a new guide for schools about recent legal requirements and other guidance.

It is also about to produce a new guide on liaising with police, with particular emphasis on developing links with the local Safer Neighbourhood Team.

Teachers and staff also have access to a training programme (Schoolsafe) which provides de-escalation and risk assessment training through to control and restraint techniques for use in particularly difficult situations.

Inspector Ben Cook, of Suffolk Constabulary's community safety team, said: “Suffolk Constabulary is extremely committed to working with schools countywide.

“We welcome close-working with Suffolk's schools and will be looking to develop this even further in the future. We take all allegations of crime extremely seriously and will thoroughly investigate any incidents reported to us.”