It is important for schools and colleges to have a policy and plan in place to manage and respond to security related incidents. The Department for Education’s guidance on school and college security offers some advice on crime prevention measures
Protection of premises against a potential criminal, terrorist and other unlawful action is an important issue. You should consider how both local and national security incidents might impact on your day-to-day business and the safety and security of staff and students. Whilst you may determine that you would routinely have to deal with incidents involving abusive or threatening individuals, or acts of vandalism on site, consideration should be given to the likelihood of a more serious incident occurring, such as one involving a student with an offensive weapon, a serious cyber-attack, or a physical attack on the premises.
In determining the type of preventative action to be taken, you should keep in mind that any measures put in place should be proportionate to the type of threat when assessed alongside the likelihood of it occurring and the impact that it would have on school or college life. Where significant risk is identified, you should review your existing measures and where necessary update them. For example, review invacuation and evacuation procedures, or consider whether to introduce dynamic lockdown procedures in order to help manage an increased level of risk. The local police will be best placed to give advice on lockdown procedures where there is a threat to your school or college.
Making the best of your estate
In particular, understanding and making best use of your estate can improve its security. A well maintained estate can act as a visible deterrent and underpin risk prevention plans. For example, having good access controls and effective physical security measures, such as security lighting, will make it harder for an intruder to infiltrate buildings and premises. The DfE’s good estate management for schools offers practical advice on effective estate management and governance.
Controlling access to school premises provides guidance on handling incidents and restricting access to, and barring of abusive or threatening individuals from, school premises and clarifies what a school is able to do should such an incident occur. Section 85A of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 enables the removal of a person committing, or who has committed an offence of nuisance or causing a disturbance when on premises of colleges, 16 to 19 academies and institutions maintained by local authorities that provide FE and HE.
Searching, screening and confiscation at schools makes clear that where a headteacher or an authorised member of staff has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a pupil may have a prohibited item in school, they have statutory powers to search pupils and their possessions without consent and can seize prohibited items found as a result of the search. The advice also explains the law on the deletion of images from mobile phones and the confiscation of prohibited items. This may be particularly relevant if you are facing challenges associated with pupils carrying offensive weapons, especially knives, into schools. Sections 85AA to 85AD of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 creates separate search powers relating to FE institutions and 16 to 19 academies if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a student may be carrying a prohibited item applicable to their age.
If you have concerns about weapons being brought on to your premises, you should discuss these concerns with the students identified as being at risk and establish what mechanisms should be put in place to ensure the students are kept safe. Before considering the installation of any physical screening of pupils (for instance a knife arch or wand), you should first consult with the local police, who will be able to provide advice about whether installation of these devices is appropriate.
The Home Office provides Preventing youth violence and gang involvement guidance for staff in schools or colleges affected by gang or youth violence. When developing an approach, it is recommended that you discuss ways to address youth violence with local police and community safety partners, as well as other local educational institutions.
As part of its response to violent crime the Home Office has also developed a resource pack for teachers and other professionals working with young people at risk of involvement in knife crime. These resources can be used in lessons or alongside other relevant materials to deliver messages and advice to young people on the consequences of knife crime. The campaign signposts teachers and young people to support services.
Counter Terrorism Policing have collaborated with specialists from the PSHE Association and Girlguiding to produce ACT for Youth. The Run Hide Tell resource pack provides a comprehensive toolkit, including lesson plans, posters and short films. You can use it to introduce security awareness into your school or college, to actively and openly engage with students about the impact and consequences of violent crime and terrorist activity on themselves and others and equip them with good advice and strategies to use outside of your school or college.
In circumstances where the DfE is made aware of an extremist or counter terrorism-related incident at an education institution, it will work with the local authority and other partners to ensure that the relevant support is provided. This would include, if appropriate, support from a FE or HE Prevent Coordinator or the Prevent Education Officer.
External providers and visitors can provide a varied and useful range of information, resources and speakers that can help you deliver security related messages to staff and students. Whilst these sources can make an effective contribution to internal programmes, you must be careful to ensure that external programmes and providers are effective. Local authorities, academy trusts or other schools and colleges in local networks may be able to give advice on the effectiveness of providers and resources.