Even suspicions of offences are more likely to be reported – and with good reason – after the fatal stabbing of Leeds teacher Ann Maguire in April 2014. Online abuse, or incidents involving mobile phones, are further factors.
Yet, while the number of juvenile delinquents is a tiny proportion of the overall school population, these figures are a wake-up call amid growing fears of gang violence. Not only does each incident disrupt the education of all those responsible students who do go to school to learn, but serial miscreants risk becoming tomorrow’s career criminals.
However cuts to police funding have not helped teachers. In the past, local constabularies had the resources to build relationships with schools and talk to pupils about personal discipline and respecting the law. Such an approach was effective.
And while this week’s police funding settlement was a tentative admission that the austerity agenda has gone too far, Home Secretary Sajid Javid does not inspire complete confidence. He says he wants “to see forces make better use of technology, make greater efficiencies though more collaborative working and increase the number of detectives in their ranks”.
Yet he forgets that policing is also about building relationships – and this starts with more officers having time to develop links with local schools. For this, coupled with early intervention when the more troublesome youngsters go awry, might help to lessen the police’s workload in the long-term.