AN innovative new initiative aimed at tackling vandalism and criminal damage to schools has come into force across the Borough.
The ‘School Watch’ scheme has been developed and implemented by Craigavon Community Safety Partnership, the local Neighbourhood Policing Teams, the Southern Education and Library Board and local school principals.
Similar to Neighbourhood Watch Schemes, the main aspects of the initiative includes placing prominent signs around and outside the school highlighting that it is being actively monitored for vandalism and anti-social behaviour, during and outside school hours.
It aims to urge pupils, parents and local residents to look out for and report any suspicious activity around school grounds, particularly during evenings, weekends, and school holidays, when schools are often the scene of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
Nine schools have signed up to the scheme so far with principals from these schools issuing letters to homes and businesses in the vicinity of the school to make them aware of the initiative. Information will also be uploaded on to all the schools websites.
Chair of Craigavon Community Safety Partnership, Councillor Robert Smith, said: “The ‘School Watch’ campaign is aimed at keeping our schools buildings safe and secure and to try and combat crime in and around the school premises.”
Constable Pamela McElhinney from Portadown Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “The impact of criminal damage such as graffiti and broken windows can have a detrimental effect on our local schools, causing funds to be spent on repairing the damage instead of being used for extra staff to help the children learn and on much needed school resources, like books and computer equipment.
“It is disheartening and frustrating to see how mindless acts of vandalism affect a school and, in turn, how this affects the whole community.
“Neither the schools nor the pupils deserve this treatment and I would urge members of the public to assist police in reducing this type of crime.
“No one wants to see teachers and pupils return to a school which has been vandalised,” she said. “Local schools will form part of our regular patrols over the Easter holidays as we work to keep them safe and we would ask anyone who lives near a school to support us in this by keeping an eye out for anything unusual or suspicious.
“We would also urge parents to be aware of what their children are up to and where they are when they are not at home.
“Anyone wishing to report suspicious activity on school premises after hours or during holidays can telephone police in Craigavon on 0845 600 8000.”
For further information, please contact Lynette Burke, Crime Reductions Initiatives Project Co-ordinator on 028 3831 2529 or email email@example.com