12/06/2007

‘School Watch’ launched by primary school pupils

Children from Acorn Integrated Primary School in Carrickfergus have today helped launch a new initiative to protect school property from vandals.

‘School Watch’ has been developed by the Policing Board, PSNI and the Northern Ireland Office Community Safety Unit. It urges pupils, parents and local residents to look out for and report any suspicious activity around school grounds, particularly during evenings, weekends and summer holidays, when schools are often the scene of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

Launching the initiative, Policing Board Vice Chairman, Barry Gilligan said: “Schools are at the heart of our community, providing a place of comfort and safety for our children’s education. We should not allow their learning environment to be spoiled by vandals.

“I would encourage everyone to look out for suspicious activity in or around school grounds and to report anything out of the ordinary to the police.

“The Policing Board is delighted to support ‘School Watch’ and we look forward to rolling it out across Northern Ireland in order to help reduce the incidences of criminal damage at our schools.”

Welcoming the rollout of ‘School Watch’, Criminal Justice Minister Maria Eagle urged anyone in the vicinity of schools, especially parents and local residents, to report any suspicious activity to the police.

Ms Eagle said: “Vandalism against schools is an attack on a community, diverting resources away from the classroom, and should not be tolerated.

“Initiatives like ‘School Watch’ can play a vital role in combating anti-social behaviour within local communities. Everyone can help protect their local schools when the premises are vacant especially during the evenings, weekend and school holidays.”

She concluded: “I would urge everyone living near a school to act as the eyes and ears of the community to make sure that any suspicious activity is reported immediately to the police.”

(JM/KMcA)

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