Police called to 7,000 violent incidents in schools

Tuesday 23 December 2008 12:38

Police were called to deal with violence in schools more than 7,000 times last year, the Conservative Party said today.

Officers responded to 7,311 attempted or actual violent crimes at schools, according to findings from 25 out of the 39 police forces in England.

Conservative children's spokesman Michael Gove said the figures were worrying and teachers needed greater authority to tackle disruptive and violent youngsters.

"There will always be the odd occasion when teacher need to call on the police for support with a serious incident but at the moment they do not have sufficient powers to nip discipline problems in the bud," he said.

But teaching unions described the statistics as scaremongering and said schools were safe places.

Fear of violence among teenagers has been exacerbated by numerous high-profile stabbings and similar gang-related crimes.

So far this year, almost 30 teenagers have died violently on the streets of London alone.

The Conservatives said their findings reflected the concerns about security expressed by teachers and parents.

But John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said the figures showed that police and schools now worked closely together.

"This is scaremongering. In fact, schools are havens of calm, even when the communities they serve may be riven with conflict and violence," he said in a statement.

"Parents and pupils should not be scared by these stories -- they should be reassured that, when violence does occur in school, it is dealt with quickly and firmly."

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said police liaison had improved although there were problems with a minority of violent pupils.

"Whilst teachers now have the powers to deal with bad behaviour, it has become a serious matter for wider society that the behaviour of a minority of pupils, and in some cases their parents, have seriously worsened in recent years," Blower said.