The Schools Engagement Officer (SEO) programme is part of a Greater Manchester-wide strategy to reduce serious youth violence. SEOs are just one of the commitments made in the Serious Violence Action Plan – GMCA are also funding numerous other youth services as part of this plan.
The program was developed after extensive consultation with hundreds of education professionals across Greater Manchester, including representatives from primary and secondary schools, further education, pupil referral units and other forms of alternative provision.
Since the autumn of 2020 a multi-agency steering group has been in place to develop this programme and the role profile. Consultation has taken place at both GM and local level with Directors of Children’s Services, the GMCA and many other interested groups and individuals. Local police leaders have engaged with their Local Authority and schools to develop and agree local implementation.
This programme is not about ‘policing schools’. There are clear guidelines in place concerning the responsibility of schools to retain primacy for behavioural and safeguarding matters, only involving the SEO when police intervention is required.
SEOs will be in place to provide generic crime prevention and safety advise, make better use of diversion schemes to lead young people away from criminality and onto positive pathways to help prevent them from entering the criminal justice system, and develop activities that help build positive relationships between police and young people.
GMP has always worked closely with schools and alongside other partner agencies to offer support to staff and young people. This engagement covers a variety of issues, including how to stay safe online, road safety, drugs and violence.
Having dedicated full-time officers will help schools develop appropriate support for young people through coaching and mentoring schemes. It will also help to identify and refer vulnerable young people to specialist support agencies.
Police presence in schools should help to build positive relationships between young people and the police. Not only can this help to promote awareness of the risks of violent or anti-social behaviour amongst young people, but it can also support individual youngsters who are vulnerable.
Young people across Greater Manchester have expressed a need for strengthening communication with local police. “I feel strongly about what the police can do for us as a community. One can be getting to know your local police officers. Some people might think the police don’t do much and don’t feel the same way as us. But police going into schools and doing presentations can have a big impact on young people’s lives,” said a young person at a recent youth-led workshop in Oldham.