Police Officers in Schools: A Scoping Study
20 October 2011
In recognition of the growing role of police officers in schools, the NFER funded a scoping study of practice in this area. The study explored the range of ways that police are working with schools, the impacts of this kind of work, the challenges experienced and the key ingredients for success. Drawing on a literature review, interviews with representatives from the police and education sectors (including those with a professional interest in this area), case-study visits to schools and a small-scale online survey of headteachers.
- Police working in schools results in a wealth of benefits for the police, for schools, their teachers and pupils, and for the wider community.
- This kind of work often arises through efforts to: reduce the prevalence of crime, anti-social behaviour and victimisation of young people; provide safe school communities; develop relationships between the police and young people and their communities, and identifying, targeting and accessing ‘at risk’ or vulnerable children and young people.
- Police work with schools in a range of ways, which can vary by where they are based, the number of schools they work with, the roles they take on in school, and the time dedicated to it.
- Difficulties encountered can include: negative perceptions of the police; unclear role definition and confusion over role boundaries; isolation of officers from their police colleagues; maintaining officer consistency and availability; and difficulties concerning working hours.
- Key ingredients for success include: presenting the initiative to the school and community in a positive way; understanding and appreciation of different agency cultures; mutual trust; clear, jointly developed protocols; shared vision and mutual understanding; joint line management; strategic support; and careful deployment of the ‘right’ officer for the job.