Agenda item

KNIFE CARRYING INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF SCHOOLS

To receive a report from Acting Police Sergeant Steve Hicks.

Minutes:

A report was received from Police Sergeant Steve Hicks on the work of the Enfield Safer Schools Team and the work and education carried out by them to deter the carrying of weapons by young people.

 

He highlighted the following

  • The Enfield Safer Schools Team consists of 14 officers. Some officers have one dedicated secondary school and others have 2. They also link with the local Primary School concentrating on years 5 and 6.

·         The enforcement duty is seen as a last option, the main focus for officers is in gaining the trust of pupils and looking out for their general safety. This may involve patrols undertaken after school time.  Advice is given to youngsters on how to reduce crime by looking after their property and recent initiative to immobilise their phone.

·         Operation Crest is a project that has been undertaken in secondary schools and aimed at youth violence, knife crime and gang awareness.  Presentations are given by police officers, a London Paramedic, an ex- offender and a bereaved mother also gives a speech.  The presentation is hard- hitting and has been showed at 5 secondary schools. The aim is for all schools to receive the presentation by the end of the school year.

·         Weapon sweeps have taken place to detect and deter the hiding of weapons.  Every school has had 2 sweeps to date.  Knife arches have also been used although there is a reticence by some head teachers in their use.

 

The following issues were raised

  1. A member of the public thought that some children may be too young to be exposed to this information.  It was stated that a lot of young people thought the presentations and weapon searches were a good thing and felt protected as a result of them happening.
  2. It was asked how success from the Operation Crest project could be measured.  Police Sergeant Steve Hicks said this was difficult to quantify but there is a questionnaire for young people to complete and sometimes this leads to follow up issues with  young people involved.
  3. When asked what happens when a knife is found during a weapon sweep it was answered that a positive arrest policy is undertaken.  It was noted that there were very few weapons actually found.  School sanctions may also be appropriate for other items found such as for a school compass or craft scissors.
  4. Natalie Sherman said that together with some other parents from the Parent Engagement Panel she had seen the presentation as part of Operation Crest she thought it was an eye-opening and excellent project.  She thought it would be useful for other parents to view this, especially as this subject was sometimes a difficult one to discuss with your child.
  5. It was discussed that the bereaved mother who has been working on Operation Crest was hoping to do more work with parents.
  6. Weapon sweeps are carried out at the beginning of school and it was asked if this would be better done at the end of the school day, as there was a concern that pupils may contact friends or hide something before going into school.  Noted that PCSO’s and plain clothes officers are present at this time and would be aware of any actions of this kind.
  7. When asked if parents are informed of future weapon searches, it was noted that at the beginning of term parents would be informed that as part of school policy weapon searches may be conducted. However a date for the search would not be given. 
  8. Sergeant Hicks spoke of the schools where Operation Crest had taken place which included the PRU (Pupil Referral Unit) . 
  9. It was asked if the project was similar to the ‘Gangs Call- In’.  The Gang- Call in was a targeted piece of work aimed at gang members, potential gang members, where people were invited to Wood Green Crown Court with paramedics, ex gang members and bereaved mothers spoke of the dangers involved. This was a joined up approach to encourage people to follow a more positive future with work options discussed.
  10. The Safer Schools officers are experienced people who work with Child Protection officers to help vulnerable children including ‘Looked after Children’
  11. When asked about 6th form colleges, it was noted that although they do not come under the remit of Steve Hicks team, there are dedicated officers who go into colleges.
  12. It was confirmed that if youngsters are caught twice with a knife  they should expect a custodial sentence.  It was thought parents should be aware of this ruling.
  13. As large numbers of pupils at Enfield Schools come from outside the Borough it was thought that the formula for deciding Enfield police numbers should take this into account.  It was mentioned that Councillors could lobby MOPAC for them to consider updating the formula used.
  14. If gang related issues are presented to the Safer Schools Team it was asked if these matters are passed on to the Gangs unit.  It was noted that the Gangs unit would be informed as they would be able to look at an exit strategy.
  15. There are a large number of schools where knife arches are not able to be used due to head teachers reluctance to have them at their schools.  Councillor Laban would discuss this issue with the Cabinet member in an effort to pursue this further.

 

Police Sergeant Steve Hicks was thanked for his report.

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