Police called to Calderdale schools more than 2,000 times

editorial image

Sexual offences, violence and drugs are some of the reasons police have been called to schools in Calderdale over the last three years.

Police were called to incidents involving drugs at Todmorden High School, Park Lane Academy, Calder High, Deanfield Primary, Holywell Green Primary, Brooksbank and Trinity Academy.

There were incidents of serious sexual offences at the William Henry Smith School, Brighouse High School, Park Lane, Todmorden High, Halifax High and Broadwood High.

Threats to kill were recorded at Ryburn Valley High and Brighouse High School, while police were called to incidents involving weapons at Todmorden High, Broadwood High, Halifax High, Ling Bob J&I, Calder High, Ryburn Valley High, Brooksbank, Brighouse High and Park Lane.

Of the 2,083 incidents, 498 were at primary or infant schools.

Todmorden High School headteacher Gill Shirt said: “As the headteacher of our community school, I am very proactive in working with the police to tackle anti-social behaviour in our town. As a result I have proactively encouraged the police to come into school and work alongside our staff to ensure the students of Todmorden High School are safe and don’t get drawn into any behaviour that would have a negative impact on our fantastic community.

“Being the single high school in the community, I feel we have a responsibility to be proactive in ensuring our students are positive community members; to this end I have been very pleased with the response of the police in supporting us with this aim.

“I’m also very proud that our students will articulate when they are concerned about incidents they have witnessed in the community; they demonstrate not only a trust in us but an acute awareness of right and wrong.

“We are very proud of the high expectations we have around behaviour and conduct; in particular our commitment to tackling any issues that arise not only in school but in the community also. Liaising with the police closely not only helps keep our students safe but helps grow their personal and social development, I take this role very seriously.

“As a school, we work with parents to do everything we can to allow our students to grow into upstanding members of the community.

“Calling the police onto the school premises during term and holiday time can occur for a multitude of reasons. These are often ones that don’t involve our students or even anyone connected to the school and our new perimeter fence will make this less of an issue moving forward.

“However, we will be looking to build on the positive relationship we have with the police in supporting the holistic education of our students.”

Chief Inspector Gareth Crossley, lead for neighbourhood policing and partnerships in Calderdale, said: “Through our neighbourhood policing approach, we continue to have strong links with our local schools, which is invaluable in terms of the relationship we have with young people in the district.

“Incidents in schools are certainly not an everyday occurrence and these figures should be viewed within a wider context.

“Considering the Calderdale District has in the region of around 140 calls for service a day, these numbers represent considerably less than 1 percent of policing demand over the last three years.

“Although a quarter of the overall figures relate to primary schools, it is still comparatively low demand and often revolves around issues of low level antisocial behaviour.

“We have analysed the statistics in recent months and have met with school heads as well as partners, to discuss our interactions at each stage of the education process.

“In particular, will be focussing more upon the age groups prior to high school, ensuring they have a positive experience with the police and that they fully understand some of the important messages around crime and safety.

“Those schools that see some of the highest attendance from officers is really representative of the close connections we have, especially in our overall safeguarding approach, where there may be concerns for absent children.

“As a partnership, we have continually addressed our procedures and reporting processes, to make sure they are correct and that children are given the right support they need.

“This in turn, has influenced the increasing statistics we have experienced over the past few years, however, we are not complacent and recognise there is still more to be done.”

James Wilson, from the Calderdale branch of the National Education Union, said: “There is a need to be cautious when drawing conclusions from these statistics without a breakdown of the proportion of different types of incidents, or a comparison to figures for other local authorities.

“The most important thing is that children and staff are kept safe, and sometimes this will mean that schools will have to call the police. This should be done in accordance with their policies and national guidelines. We trust that schools will continue to do this, and will support our members if this is not the case.

“However, the ongoing real terms cuts to school budgets that the Government are continuing to impose have led to the loss of a number of support and pastoral staff roles that help ensure the safety of children and staff. This will make it difficult for schools to keep people safe, and shows that the Government have a negative attitude towards young people and their futures. I hope that parents bear this in mind when elections are held.”

Coun Megan Swift, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said: “We are confident that Park Lane Academy is making rapid improvements, is following safeguarding procedures and is fully committed to its students, teachers and the whole school community.”

Park Lane Academy was approached for a comment but did not provide one.