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Opinion: Police school liaison officers play vital role

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 November 2018

Havering's London Assembly Member Keith Prince.

Havering's London Assembly Member Keith Prince.

Archant

We all know that London is experiencing a violence epidemic, with knife crime up by 50 per cent since September 2015.

At a time when our city is in the midst of a crime wave, it is only right that the priority is enforcement; cracking down on the perpetrators and getting knives off London’s streets.

But we should never lose focus of the importance of prevention too.

We owe it to future generations to make sure that we are taking the right steps now to stop young people from turning to a life crime.

I recently met the police officer in charge of all school liaison officers in our area and was struck by the vitally important role that these officers play in terms of crime prevention.

The main objective of school liaison officers is, of course, to keep young people out of the criminal justice system, but their approach to achieving this is wide-ranging and multifaceted.

Crime occurs almost everywhere, including in schools.

While school liaison officers investigate crime, they go to great lengths to find alternatives to criminal justice outcomes.

Having a criminal record at such a young age can have a devastating impact on a young person’s prospects and can result in the individual in question resorting to crime.

These officers also raise awareness of the ramifications of committing crime and help young people to develop trust in the police.

It is all too often the case that it is the angry teenagers with no faith in our justice system who end up being criminals.

I plan to write to the Met Police Commissioner, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and our borough commander to reiterate my support for school liaison officers.

I will be seeking assurances that we have enough of these officers in Havering so that our young people can fully benefit from their invaluable work.

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