Police Stage Search Arch Event At Harris Academy

Aim to make people feel "safe and happy" at school

Acting Police Sergeant Gemma Forder, the Safer Schools Officer for Wimbledon's Rutlish School, led a search arch event at Harris Academy Merton in Mitcham.

This is part of an ongoing series of events staged at various times throughout the academic year, at a number of schools and colleges, in full consultation with the senior staff at each location.

It involved Safer Schools Officers and the Mitcham Local Policing Team, supported by Principal Leo Gilbert.

The events are not widely advertised or disclosed in advance, to enhance the deterrent effect for the very small minority of individuals who may be linked to offences.

Prior to pupils arriving at the academy, an airport-style search arch had been set up by the main entrance by schools officers, ready to welcome, reassure and support the young people as they arrived for the school day.

Young people have often expressed fear of crime, particularly around travelling to and from schools. Research also shows that increased and engaging positive police activity reassures people and reduces the fear of crime.

The search arch event showed just one of many policing options used to prevent and deter crime, and was an opportunity for Schools PCs to talk with young people coming to school, answer their questions or concerns and explain what was taking place.

Acting Sergeant Gemma Forder said: "This is not about trying to catch people out or make arrests, but is building on the great work our Schools officers are already doing every day in our Merton schools, to ensure people feel safe and happy at school."

Harris Academy Merton Principal Leo Gilbert said: "My first duty is to ensure that all members of the Academy community feel safe. We work closely with local police from time to time, carrying out these searches to show that our students do not carry weapons. Not once in six years have any weapons been found."

Chief Inspector Phil Palmer, Partnerships, said: "With dedicated Safer Schools officers as integral members of our secondary schools community, and close positive involvement of youth engagement and local policing teams, I am proud to support our Principals, Heads and teaching staff to maintain the enviable reputation Merton schools have as safe places of learning."

For more information about how the police support young people in schools and outside, visit www.safe.met.police.uk for more information and advice.

July 1, 2014