Sian Berry challenges Sadiq Khan over use of ‘valuable resources’ for safer schools officers

Green Party London Assembly member Sian Berry has challenged the mayor’s plans to increase the amount of police officers linked to schools in the capital.

During the November 2016 ‘People’s Question Time’ data obtained from the mayor revealed that the deployment of safer schools officers had no effect on the figures of youth offending.

There is a police officer linked to Harris Academy in Merton with the aim of reducing the prevalence of crime.

PC John Wylie, SSO for Harris Academy, said: “If a student is involved in anti-social behaviour, I work in conjunction with the school’s discipline structure to deal with it promptly.”

PC Wylie served as a safer neighbourhoods officer as well as a response officer for Merton before taking on this role.

His intention is to be an approachable police representative providing a safe and secure environment for both students and staff.

Ms Berry raised a question about the effectiveness of SSOs – which have been disproportionately scattered around London.

She said: “I am worried that this will use up valuable resources when there is no convincing evidence that they have a genuine effect on youth offending.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s response was that the increase of SSOs within schools is a direct consequence of the rise in knife crime which has taken place in London over the last few years.

He hopes the officers will enable schools to educate young people about the dangers of engaging in anti-social behaviour.

He said: “We have to work with schools, youth workers, parents, politicians, faith leaders to find the solutions we need to address this ongoing problem.”

Safer schools officers were launched nationally in 2002 with guidance stating the aim was to prevent and reduce victimisation within the school and community.

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