September 21, 2021. News
Back to school means additional support from Thames Valley Police and the Violence Reduction Unit
With children back in schools, Thames Valley Police and the Violence Reduction Unit has made a force-wide commitment to maintaining the provision of specially-trained schools officers, with new resources available to help support young people, keep them safe and prevent them being drawn into crime and violence.
There are currently 18 Schools Officers operating across the force area, each one building close relationships with local schools in their area. They undertake regular visits to schools to engage with young people and help educate them on issues such as drugs, violence, exploitation and abuse.
New processes have been developed for schools to receive support in disciplinary matters involving drugs or violence which seek to prevent exclusion and early criminalisation where appropriate, instead keeping a young person in education and to address their behaviour more positively.
The Violence Reduction Unit has developed a suite of resources and initiatives which are delivered by Thames Valley Police schools and neighbourhood officers. This includes items such as:
- The PC Ben storybook – written for the youngest children in school, a lesson delivered by the local neighbourhood team to help explain the role of the police and build trust at the earliest ages
- Mini Police – involving children in community events, providing a special uniform and equipment. Teaching young people responsibility and community service
- New lesson plans and materials delivered in PSHE lessons covering topics including drugs and violence
- A new deflection programme, seeking to support a school to prevent disciplinary issues escalating
- Restorative justice training for Schools Officers to seek more positive outcomes and avoid early criminalisation
- Training for police officers and staff in the impact of early childhood trauma and the effect it can have on behaviours
Chief Superintendent Katy Barrow-Grint, of Thames Valley Police’s Local Policing directorate, said:
“Thames Valley Police is committed to working with young people, their parents and schools to give young people a positive start in life.
“We do this through the work of our specially-trained Schools Officers and also the ongoing engagement by our neighbourhood teams with their local schools.
“Together with the Violence Reduction Unit, we have a package of resources that our officers can use to educate on the difficult issues young people face and we work closely with schools to prevent young people being excluded or criminalised wherever appropriate. This helps them stay engaged in education and keeps them safe and away from crime.”
Tom Goodenough, Education Lead for the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, himself a former Headteacher, said:
“Early-years engagement with young people helps to build their trust in the police and gives them the awareness and skills to manage the risks they face in a fast-paced world.
“We know that early exclusion from school or contact with the criminal justice system has a significant impact on their futures – leading to poor attainment and there is a link to future criminality and violence. We’ve helped to develop new processes which support schools and young people to avoid this.
“We are working with partners in the police, across schools and local authorities and within our community and voluntary sector to give the very best support we can for young people.”
Tim Martin, Headteacher of Wheatley Park School in Oxfordshire, said:
“Children are growing up in a complex world and it is our challenge to help them to attain educationally but also to help them navigate the risks they face.
“Our pupils enjoy the opportunity to have frank conversations with police officers and our teachers also benefit from their involvement in lessons. They bring advice, guidance and support the school in the wider community.
“Our relationship with Thames Valley Police and the support we receive from our dedicated Schools Officers is vital to the our ability to help give our children the best start in life.”