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School Watch launched at primary school 12 June 2008

A SCHEME in which schoolchildren and schools' neighbours will be the eyes and ears of the police was launched this afternoon.

School Watch is an Eastern Neighbourhood Policing Team (ENPT) initiative incorporating all 11 primary schools in Braddan, Onchan and upper Douglas.

Similar to the familiar Neighbourhood Watch and Business Watch schemes, which have been in existence for many years, School Watch is aimed at protecting Department of Education property from vandals and thieves who lead to the taxpayer footing bills of thousands of pounds a year.

The scheme has come about through the Eastern Neighbourhood Partnership, a community problem-solving forum led by the Isle of Man Constabulary's ENPT. The Department of Education is an active member of the Partnership.

School Watch was launched at Ashley Hill Primary School, Onchan, after a pupil there, Annabel Corlett, 11, won a contest to design street signs that will go up near all 11 schools.

Constable Tony Lawler, the officer in charge of the scheme, said schools had suffered criminal damage, thefts and even break-ins. The scheme will address the problem as a whole rather than on a case by case basis.

The scheme will be rolled out at the remaining 10 schools in the next week, with signs going up and officers giving talks to pupils, Constable Lawler said, while those living near schools will receive postcards telling them all about the scheme and carrying the number of the confidential Crimestoppers' line.

John Gill, Head of Legal and Administrative Services with the Department of Education, said schools were ideal, safe places for children to play in the evenings and at weekends but unfortunately also attracted those intent on breaking the law, at risk to buildings and even themselves. He said Ashley Hill School itself had been targeted by vandals several times.

Praising Eastern Neighbourhood Policing Team officers for introducing the scheme, he said: 'It is a true example of working together in partnership.'

He said the striking yellow signs were 'designed by a young person for a young persons' building'.

Headteacher at Ashley Hill School, Linda Smith, said:'This has inspired us to improve our grounds and create a garden area, because we known things will improve.'

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