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Pupils sign up to School Watch 6 February 2007

CHILDREN are working with the police to stamp out crime near their schools.

Pupils at Onchan School and Ashley Hill School are taking part in a pioneering School Watch scheme, run by the Eastern Neighbourhood Policing Team.

They will be delivering School Watch postcards to homes near their schools, asking householders to be on the lookout for people breaking the law.

Constable Tony Lawler, of Onchan Police Station, said:

'These cards give a basic outline of the scheme and phone numbers via which people can report anything suspicious.'

He said pupils were receiving talks from police officers and the scheme was being backed up with an education pack all about crime, targeted at pupils in Years 5 and 6. Constable Lawler said the scheme was a response to incidents of criminal damage and anti-social behaviour near schools.

'It will also help to address problems such as road safety and flag up anyone suspicious hanging around the area,' said Constable Lawler.

'Forty per cent of all crime reported is preventable and part of that preventative process is making sure the public act as extra eyes and ears and report anything suspicious to the police. This scheme will encourage this.'

School Watch has the backing of the Department of Education, which is a member of the ENPT partnership.

Legal and Administrative Support Unit Manager John Gill said:

'We all have a part to play in reducing crime and enlisting pupils to raise awareness among those who live near schools is a good way of making the young people aware of the social issues going on in their neighbourhoods.'

Police will, via nominated teachers, pass on details of incidents near either school, while signs will be put up advertising the School Watch areas.

Similar in size to Neighbourhood Watch signs, they are being designed by pupils at the schools, who have been given the chance to create a suitable logo.

If the pilot scheme is successful, all schools in the Eastern Neighbourhood Policing Team area will join in.

The Eastern Neighbourhood Policing Team is also going into schools to teach pupils to B-ACE.

Behaviour and Crime Education will teach primary school youngsters about criminal responsibility, types of crime and having respect for their environment.

Constable Lawler and colleagues will use a simple pencil to demonstrate how crimes such as theft, assault and criminal damage are carried out. Pencils will be handed out to all pupils who take part, thanks to sponsorship from the Department of Education. These will form part of an education pack the youngsters can take home, together with an information sheet for parents.

Lessons have started at both Onchan and Ashley Hill Schools and will be given to all the other primary schools within the ENPT area.

Constable Lawler said:

‘Having now delivered the B-ACE lesson, which is an hour long, and having spoken to both pupils and teachers, it appears that the curriculum within the programme has sunk home. ‘I have had youngsters come up to me when I have been off-duty telling me how great it was and that they learned from it.’

Linda Smith, head teacher at Ashley Hill School, said:

‘We are very pleased to be involved as a school with this project, which will benefit the school and the local residents who are our neighbours. We do have damage done to the school at weekends and holidays and I know there has been under-age drinking and rowdy behaviour from some youths. I hope this will keep the building free from vandalism and give residents peace of mind.’

Onchan School head teacher Sally Farrell said:

‘Our school is a community within a community and we all care for both. We encourage our children to value both themselves and their environment, thus encouraging them to become responsible and respected members of both communities.’

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