Whitehaven Secondary Schools to have a dedicated community officer

Wednesday, 17 June, 2009

Whitehaven School and St Benedict's Catholic High School are to share a community officer who will be dedicated to policing the whole school community. An officer will be based between the schools as part of a new initiative which aims to promote the ideals of respect and responsibility both inside and outside of school hours.

The Safer Schools Partnership (SSP) programme aims to promote a safe school environment that fosters the ideals of responsibility and civility both in school and in the surrounding community while providing a platform to maximise educational achievement.

PC Sandra Dempsey, of Whitehaven Neighbourhood Policing Team, will be the Community Officer based at Whitehaven School and St Benedict's Catholic High School.

She said: "Youth participation is extremely important to ensuring a safer, stronger community, not only in terms of crime reduction, but also in the personal and educational benefits that involvement brings.

"I am looking forward to working closely with the school, the young people and the parents, to help tackle issues affecting the school community. One of my aims is to build trust and relationships with the young people to encourage them to recognise their responsibilities and help them develop respect for their peers and the wider community.

"Being based at the school, I will also be a Police contact for parents and members of the local community. By working closely with the schools we will engage young people and enhance the environment where learning, personal achievement and personal responsibility are actively promoted and achieved."

The Headteacher at St Benedict's High School, Ann Brook, said: "St Benedict's has worked effectively in partnership with the police and other agencies for several years on initiatives aimed at maximising the educational experience for all our students. This is an exciting project which will build on our already successful relationship with the police, and will provide the opportunity to develop new ways of working together.

"This approach has a proven record of success in other schools, both nationally and locally, in raising the self-esteem of young people, supporting the 'Respect' campaign and enriching the delivery of the citizenship curriculum. I feel confident that this new initiative will enrich the learning of our young people and be a valuable resource for the families and communities of both Whitehaven School and ourselves - we are really looking forward to working with Sandra at our school."

Malcolm Smith, Headteacher of Whitehaven School, said: "We enjoy successful partnerships with many external agencies and already work closely with the police to support young people and the community. This initiative will give the school community one officer - a point of contact making it clear that the school and Cumbria Constabulary are working together on the development of respect at the heart of good citizenship."

By 2010 it is expected that all 42 secondary schools throughout Cumbria will be part of the SSP programme and have a designated link with their local policing team as well as external support and advice from a number of other local agencies.

The SSP programme has also been introduced into Alfred Barrow High School in Barrow in Furness, Southfield Technology College in Workington, Ewanrigg Primary School, Richard Rose Academy Central in Carlisle and Underlay Hall, Kirkby Lonsdale. The scheme was launched in 2002 by the Department for Children Schools and Families, Home Office, Youth Justice Board and the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Inspector Dave Willets, who is responsible for driving forward youth strategy in Cumbria, said: "This is a great opportunity to build and develop existing relationships between Cumbria Constabulary and the local school communities throughout Cumbria with the implementation of the SSP programme.

"This programme offers an opportunity to engage with young people in our schools and raise further awareness of Cumbria Constabulary's respect campaign which aims to promote the ideals of considerate and responsible behaviour to people throughout the county.

"Working alongside our partners we aim to create an environment where learning, personal achievement and personal responsibility are actively promoted and achieved.

"The direct connection with young people will provide us with a better understanding of the issues they face and will help us to be more effective in the help and support we can provide for them in the communities they live and not just inside the school gates.

"All schools and their surrounding communities are different with specific requirements and this programme has been designed to meet the individual needs of each school and the surrounding community. The roll out will therefore be a gradual process with differing levels of engagement with each establishment."

Return to news menu