Submitted to Autonomy News by the Northern Police Monitoring Project
A new report finds that almost 9 in 10 respondents feel negatively about the prospect of a regular police presence in schools, and 3 in 4 parents would have concerns about sending their children to schools with a regular police presence.
Authored by Dr Laura Connelly, Roxy Legane, and Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury, and published by Kids of Colour and the Northern Police Monitoring Project, the report responds to the Greater Manchester Mayor’s plans to put at least twenty additional police officers in Greater Manchester schools in the coming academic year.
Surveying 554 respondents, including teachers, young people, parents and community members, ‘Decriminalise the Classroom: A Community Response to Police in Greater Manchester’s Schools’ is the most comprehensive report of its kind in the UK.
The report notes that 95% of respondents have not been consulted on the Mayor’s plans to introduce at least 20 more school-based police officers in 2020-21, and the negative impact of police in schools will, and already does, disproportionately impact upon ethnic minority communities and working-class communities.
From criminalising young people and exacerbating inequalities, to creating a culture of low expectations and a climate of hostility, this vital report spotlights the voices of young people – many of whom have already had experiences of police in schools.
With respondents making clear that they would much rather investment be made in counsellors, youth workers, and teachers, the report calls for the abolition of school-based police officers across Greater Manchester and adds weight to a burgeoning No Police in Schools campaign across Greater Manchester.
One of the report’s authors, and director of Kids of Colour, Roxy Legane said:
‘‘In the report, young people have consistently conveyed feeling anxious in school with an officer, and even at the prospect of having one in the future. What I am particularly concerned about is the impact police in schools is having and will have on young people’s mental well-being. The often less visible consequences of over-policing, particularly for young people of colour, is the trauma they are left carrying on a daily basis. Whether the result of a direct experience or watching your community over-policed, for many just seeing an officer can be unsettling. Now we are asking some young people to see a force they fear every day when they go to school, an environment that is meant to be safe.”
Report co-author, and member of Northern Police Monitoring Project, Dr Laura Connelly said:
‘This report makes clear that people living and working in Greater Manchester are deeply concerned about the plans for more school-based police officers. They’re concerned that police will bring into the school setting the institutional racism and police violence already experienced in over-policed communities.
Police in schools mean that minor behaviour issues will be escalated into criminal justice issues, lumbering young people with criminal records that will jeopardise their future prospects. If they truly care about our young people, Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Police must take these concerns seriously and act now to remove all school-based police officers from Greater Manchester schools.’
Co-author, and member of Northern Police Monitoring Project, Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury said:
‘As this report details, school-based police have a range of negative consequences that are felt most acutely by those from working-class and ethnic minority communities. It is vital that the Mayor’s office acts swiftly to protect learning environments and create a culture of high expectations within our schools.
After a summer in which Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted racism in the police and wider society, and when educational inequalities have garnered national attention, this report raises urgent questions about the future of Greater Manchester’s schools.’
Notes to editors:
1. The full report and executive summary are available at: www.nopoliceinschools.co.uk
2. The report’s authors, and/or members of the No Police in Schools campaign are available for interview and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. No Police in Schools is a community coalition group united by our shared concerns over the increasing presence of police in schools in Greater Manchester and beyond. The campaign is led by Northern Police Monitoring Project and Kids of Colour, with support from the National Education Union’s North West Black Members Organising Forum.