Met to review role of school police officers after legal challenge

Apr 20, 2020 by

Case raised concerns that officers could have disproportionately negative effect on BME pupils

British Metropolitan Police officer with HK MP5A3 (A5?). NOTE That ...

The Metropolitan police are to review the role of officers in schools after a legal challenge raised concerns that they could have a disproportionately negative effect on pupils from black and minority ethnic groups.

The challenge, brought on behalf of the family of a 14-year-old boy who is black and has autism, was withdrawn after police agreed to carry out further analysis of the Met’s safer schools partnerships (SSP) and the role of safer schools officers (SSO).

Under the SSP, schools in the capital and elsewhere in the country have police officers attached to them for the safety and security of pupils and staff. In some cases officers are permanently based at the school to enable early intervention and help forge good relationships between pupils and the police.

Last month the high court granted permission for a judicial review after lawyers brought the case on behalf of the boy, known as A for legal reasons, who was investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service after getting into a verbal altercation with a member of staff that was reported to the school officer.

Lawyers agreed there were potential benefits in having police in schools and many forces have favoured them as part of efforts to reduce knife crime. Their claim, however, was that the Met failed to comply with the public sector equality duty by failing to monitor, assess and understand the equalities implications of putting officers in schools in London.

Dan Rosenberg, an education law expert at Simpson Millar who is representing the family, said: “Deploying police officers in schools may have benefits for students and the wider school community, and no one is disputing that, least of all our client.

“However, there is a risk that the presence of police officers in schools may have disproportionately negative consequences for black and ethnic minority boys and/or children with special education needs and disabilities, causing them to be drawn into the criminal justice system unnecessarily.

“We’re delighted that the Met has now agreed to monitor and address the equality implications of deploying police officers in schools, which simply cannot be done without the collection and analysis of relevant data.”

The Met confirmed that the claim had been withdrawn by mutual agreement on the basis that the police would carry out a review. A statement said: “The review will look at the role and impact of the SSP and SSOs, and consider any equality implications they may have.

“The [force] maintains that SSPs are enormously beneficial to pupils, schools and communities. They continue to be an important part of the Met’s work, and remain active.”

Source: Met to review role of school police officers after legal challenge | UK news | The Guardian

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