Met to review schools police scheme after judicial review threat

The Metropolitan Police will review its Safer Schools Officers scheme across London following concerns it has “disproportionately negative consequences” for black and minority ethnic groups and those with special needs. 

The police will collect and analyse data on the equality implications of the initiative – which sees officers attached to schools across the capital.

It comes after legal action was brought on behalf of a black autistic boy who was investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service after he got into a verbal altercation with a member of staff at his school. 

The family’s representatives argued the Met has failed to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty while deploying officers in schools.

Last month, the High Court granted permission for a judicial review to go ahead and a hearing was expected later in the year.

However, the police have now agreed to settle the case, and review the implications of the deployment of officers to schools in the Metropolitan Police area.

Dan Rosenberg, an education law expert at Simpson Millar who is representing the family, said: “Deploying police officers in schools may have benefits for students and the wider school community, and no one is disputing that, least of all our client.

“However, there is a risk that the presence of police officers in schools may have disproportionately negative consequences for black and ethnic minority boys and/or children with special education needs and disabilities, causing them to be drawn into the criminal justice system unnecessarily.”

He added they were “delighted” that the Met has “now agreed to monitor and address the equality implications of deploying police officers in schools, which simply cannot be done without the collection and analysis of relevant data”.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said the claim had been “withdrawn by mutual agreement on the basis that the MPS is undertaking further analysis in respect of the Safer School Partnership and the role of Safer Schools Officers”.

The spokesperson added: “The review will look at the role and impact of the SSP and SSOs, and consider any equality implications they may have.

“The MPS maintains that Safer Schools Partnerships are enormously beneficial to pupils, schools, and communities. They continue to be an important part of the Met’s work, and remain active.”

Schools Week previously revealed schools across the country were losing access to dedicated officers due to cuts in funding. 

However, in contrast to the rest of the country, the number of officers in London’s schools was found to be on the rise – with the number of school officers jumping nearly 10 per cent from 270 in 2014-15, to 295 in 2017.