Islington school police team slashed
PUBLISHED: 17:06 06 October 2010 | UPDATED: 11:13 14 October 2010
INVALUABLE police officers attached to Islington s primary schools are to be axed after funding for a pioneering anti-crime scheme was pulled by the council. Since 2007 a dedicated team of 18 Police Community Support Officers have worked closely with e
INVALUABLE" police officers attached to Islington's primary schools are to be axed after funding for a pioneering anti-crime scheme was pulled by the council.
Since 2007 a dedicated team of 18 Police Community Support Officers have worked closely with every primary school in Islington to help guide misbehaving pupils, tackle truancy, patrol the school gates and even run lunchtime "detective clubs".
The initiative - the first of its kind in London - was introduced against a backdrop of rising knife crime and youth violence and is jointly funded by Islington Council, the Metropolitan Police and Arsenal Football Club.
But the new Labour council is to controversially pull its share of the £280,000-a-year running costs - angering head teachers and parents who have condemned the loss as "a tragedy".
The council has refused to reveal how much the measure would save, but it is thought be around £230,000 year.
Barrie O'Shea, headteacher of Duncombe Primary School, in Sussex Way, Holloway, said: "The PCSOs have been an incredible resource for our school. They've built up a very good relationship with the local community. If children are in trouble outside school now they will approach a police officer."
Sue Seifert, who retired after 11 years as head of Montem Primary School, in Hornsey Road, Holloway, last year, said: "The PCSOs have become invaluable in schools.
"They meant a lot to kids and if you felt something was going to kick off outside the gates at the end of the day they were there for you."
The cuts, announced by Labour community safety chief Barbara Sidnell, mean the 18-strong primary school PCSO team will be slashed to just seven. Councillor Terry Stacy, leader of the council's Liberal Democrat opposition, said: "This decision shows that Labour councillors couldn't give a toss about community safety in Islington."
Councillor Sidnell, said: "Every part of the council is under pressure from Government cuts - we are having to make major savings and this includes reducing some of our funding to partners including the police."
The Met has confirmed it will foot the bill for the seven remaining officers with help from continued police funding donated by Arsenal FC.
A spokeswoman for Islington Police said: "We will be reducing the number of schools PCSO posts to seven. Whilst this will mean some reduction in the service we provide, we will continue to prioritise safety in schools and to work closely with teachers and Islington Council to achieve this.