The number of times police have been called out to schools in the West Midlands has risen 4.5 per cent in one year, figures have revealed. But the number of arrests related to schools has fallen by almost half.
Officers from West Midlands Police were sent out to schools 4,999 times during 2013-14 financial year – up 217 from 4,782 the year before. The majority of call-outs were for reported crime, while suspicious circumstances and concerns for safety also featured prominently.
During the same year, there were 52 arrests related to schools, although the force has said that some offences could have taken place near school sites and not necessarily on the grounds. The release of the figures coincided with an 11-year-old boy being arrested after more than 20 fellow pupils at Moreton Community School in Wolverhampton were jabbed with a diabetes finger prick pen. The boy, who was arrested at his home in Low Hill, has been bailed until next month.
Call-outs do not involve only pupil safety. Last month, officers were called to Old Fallings Junior School in Fallings Lane, Wolverhampton, after an overhead projector was stolen.
The most notable police involvement with a school in the Black Country was last year following the death of schoolgirl Christina Edkins, who was stabbed on a bus while on her way to Leasowes High School in Halesowen.
Today, principal Neil Shaw praised the police for their help during the aftermath of her death, adding that he was ‘full of admiration’ for their support.
He said: “I have confidence in the ability of the police to respond to a wide variety of circumstances that arise but feel that they are sometimes too stretched to offer a comprehensive programme of pro-active, educational and preventative programmes.
“Perceptions of police involvement in schools need to change and the public need to be reassured and shown that their involvement is pro-active, positive and helpful to communities in the broader sense.”
Supt Keith Fraser said: “We work very closely with all schools in the West Midlands on a daily basis on many different levels, whether it is a police presence for an incident that concerns a school or just local officers visiting teachers and pupils to deliver crime prevention advice.”