Schools, working in partnership with the police, have created a safer learning environment which reduces absenteeism and raises standards, but the take-up of partnership working is slow. A survey by the Association of Chief Police Officers revealed that only 20 per cent of primary schools and 45 per cent of secondary schools in the country are involved in some sort of Safe Schools Partnership.
The threats to children in schools include victimization, bullying, crime, antisocial behaviour, weapons, drugs, alcohol and gang culture. Cyber bullying and texting sexual text messages, have become growing threats. Children as young as five are carrying cell phones and sending and receiving sexual pictures and text messages.
An evaluation report of the Safer School Partnerships published in 2006 by York University found that unauthorised absence decreased by 0.2 per cent in schools with partnerships compared to schools without. The percentage of pupils achieving A*to C grades at GCSE also increased by 2.2 per cent in schools with partnerships compared to those without.
The partnerships provide positive relationships between pupils and the police, they help young people learn more about what the police do in the community and how they can avoid being drawn into crime and anti-social behaviour. They also give more support and challenge for pupils at risk of offending or susceptible to violent extremism or gang culture. Screening for weapons can be introduced much more readily where a partnership is already in operation. Partnerships will also have ready access to advice about mobile security products to counter cyber bullying.
New guidance on setting up Safe Schools Partnerships has been issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, ACPO and the Youth Justice Board.