A group of MPs making up the Home Affairs Committee have called for more investment into neighbourhood policing, which includes placing dedicated police officers into “schools in areas with an above-average risk of serious youth violence”, according to BBC News. This would take action in April 2020, as a way of tackling knife crime and youth violence. The implemented ‘dedicated’ police officers would work alongside, and in addition to, those members of the police force who already work with schools. A freedom of information request exposed these plans for Greater Manchester. The police force of Greater Manchester has committed to placing 20 more police officers in schools in the 2020/21 year. The implementation of police within schools has raised concerns within the community, given the lack of consultation with parents, teachers and students alike. For this reason, Community Organizations ‘Kids of Colour’ and ‘The Northern Police Monitoring Project’ have led the protest, by writing an open letter to Mayor Andy Burnham, explaining the negative impact this will have on students of colour across Manchester.
Academic Remi Joseph-Salisbury, of community organization ‘The Northern Police Monitoring Project’, and Roxy Legane, founder of ‘Kids of Colour’, have recently discussed these plans with Natalie Morris, at the Metro. Both community organizers raised real concerns about how this proposed change will impact students of colour. As stated in their open letter to the Mayor, not only does this create places of surveillance out of schools, but the history of institutional racism within the police suggests students of colour will feel the effects of police presence more harshly. As Remi notes “institutional racism in policing means that Black and Asian people are more likely to be stopped and searched…and generally more likely to be over-policed”. Not only this, but the placement of police within schools criminalizes students before any offence. As Roxy Legane notes, “the implementation of school-based police officers will drive up levels of exclusions from schools, as the presence of police in schools’ risks turning minor behavioural issues into criminal issues”.
As both Remi and Roxy have voiced, the concern over youth violence should be one which is linked to the damaging impact of austerity on British society, rather than a narrow focus on individuals themselves. According to the Guardian, approximately 10,000 fewer secondary school teachers have been hired in the past five years, which Angela Rayner asserting that “the principle of free education regardless of income… is being undermined by Tory cuts”. Remi Joseph-Salisbury echoes these sentiments, encouraging investment into both teachers and resources, rather than extreme responses such as placing police in schools.
Stationing police in schools criminalize young people and disregard the well-being of all young people, but particularly young people of colour who are frequently criminalized by the police simply for existing. ‘Kids of Colour’ has recently exposed the racism young people of colour face daily, through the racially-aggravated assault of Manchester United’s football stadium, where 19-year-old Kamarl Nelson was racially abused by the security team ‘Controlled Solutions Group’, who called Kamarl a ‘slave’, and fractured his eye socket and bruised his ribs. Police officers arriving on the scene told Kamarl that he “didn’t need to be so angry”, according to the statement provided by ‘Kids of Colour’. Cases such as this one, which occurs daily, demonstrate how people of colour are often guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the police. To this note, the shift to placing more police within schools welcomes in the over-policing of young people in an environment which is supposed to be their safe-space, and environment for growth.
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