St John’s schools get radios and police officers to fight antisocial behaviour

OFFICER CLASS: Police will offer more support to local schools

SCHOOLS in Tunbridge Wells are to be equipped with radios and assigned police officers in an effort to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Police have been dealing with an increased number of incidents across the town, specifically in St John’s, where reports of criminal damage, vandalism, theft, verbal abuse, and racial harassment have escalated.

Many of these groups are known to the police and attend local schools, with some arrests having already been made.

To tackle the rise of antisocial behaviour in schools, Kent Police and Tunbridge Wells Safer Town Partnership are implementing measures to support secondary school headmasters in the St John’s area.

This includes Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School, Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys, The Skinners’ School, St Gregory’s Catholic School and Bennett Memorial Diocesan School.

Police presence in St John’s will be increased with dedicated neighbourhood police officers being assigned to the area and a named officer appointed to each school.

Edward Wesson, Headmaster at Skinners’ told the Times: “We will be one of the schools benefiting from the establishment of a Child Centred Policing Team in Tunbridge Wells, bringing three police officers or PCSOs to support our work with students in and out of school. We welcome this. Anything that helps stop young people falling (often inadvertently) into criminal behaviour is good news. The police are fundamental to that process of education and we look forward to working with allocated officers.”

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s Community Safety Unit will also be equipping each of the schools with radios which will connect directly to nearby police officers and CCTV operators.

Roz Heaton, Business Crime Manager for the Safer Town Partnership told the Times: “Hopefully these measures will give schools a bit more armour to deal with incidents like this.

“If schools do have a problem, the police will know about it immediately rather than waiting for a report to come through later.

“Our Street pastors and youth teams will also have radios so they are able to help as well,” Ms Heaton explained.

“The initiative will be reviewed again after the schools go back in September, but the measures are there to help headmasters so they don’t feel alone and that there is someone to help.”

Greg Clark MP, who recently met with local headteachers and the police, said: “The Chief Inspector has taken steps to increase the police presence in the area and has agreed measures to support headteachers, who themselves with their staff have been increasing their support for pupils leaving the schools at the end of the day.

“I am grateful to the Chief Inspector and his colleagues for meeting with me and the headteachers and responding in the way that they have.

“Our area is generally a safe and respectful place, and it is important to intervene to keep it that way,” he added.

“There are some signs that the increased police presence is having an effect, but it is still early days and the extent of the behaviour is very substantial.

“I will continue to support residents in doing everything I can to end this unacceptable situation.”

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