School Police support rolled out across the City

Dedicated police support is being rolled out to all 23 Edinburgh high schools in a bid to help tackle crime, bullying and exclusion.

The scheme, which was first piloted in April 2007, has been so successful that Lothian and Borders Police and the City of Edinburgh Council are extending the project to 11 dedicated officers covering all schools by April 2012.

The involvement of the officers in day-to-day school life provides young people with the opportunity to have contact with them in stress-free and non-confrontational situations, helping to shape positive relationships between them and the police that can continue throughout their lives.

In a typical day, this can see them running after-school activities, helping to mediate meetings with kids to address bullying, out-and-about during lunch talking to pupils, and patrolling the community after school to discourage anti-social behaviour.

The project has helped drive down exclusions and build positive relationships, with the officers becoming valued members of the school. Local communities have also welcomed the visible police presence, as at lunch and finishing times pupils' behaviour has improved.

City Education Leader, Cllr Marilyne MacLaren said: "This is a great project that is highly valued by all involved. It provides an opportunity for police officers to show a friendly face and build up positive and non-threatening relations with young people. As a result of the pilot the police schools link officer is no longer viewed as threatening and harassing by youngsters, but as someone who is on their side.

"I strongly believe that all children should be in school, where they can learn, thrive and reach their full potential and not be wandering the streets. School Link Officers help us to reduce truancy and exclusion which affect all our schools.

"The successful pilot with school link officers provides an excellent example of how we can reduce anti-social behaviour and protect our most at-risk children. They help to build relationships with the police and provide positive role models for young people."

Chief Superintendent Gill Imery said: "The expansion of the existing School Link Officer scheme in Edinburgh is a significant step forward for both police, pupils and communities across the Capital.

"Officers will split their time between schools, establishing relations and integrating with staff and pupils at key times throughout the day.

"The scheme has proved highly successful since its introduction in 2007, and has resulted in improved relations between the Force and young people, as well as a better standard of behaviour from pupils. This is turn has proved beneficial to those communities surrounding the schools involved.

"Lothian and Borders Police is committed to community engagement and the prevention of crime, so having officers involved in the day-to-day business of so many secondary schools in Edinburgh is an invaluable way of supporting these aims."

The police officers will also look to build up networks with the local primary schools, to help establish early relationships with younger pupils.

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