Crime in Norfolk schools hit a five-year high

Police attended the scene. Photo: Steve Adams

Police attended the scene. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

The number of crimes recorded at Norfolk's schools has hit a five-year high.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that, after falling steadily for four years, the total number of offences recorded at Norfolk schools spiked in 2014-15.

The increase was largely driven by a 43pc rise in violence against the person offences recorded at high schools last year, and a 57pc increase in primary schools.

Police said the increase could be due to changes to crime statistic standards.

The figures comes after government data released in the summer showed Norfolk had England's joint-highest rate of pupils expelled from primary schools, with the rate in high schools almost double the national average.

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Binks Neate-Evans, chairman of the Norfolk Primary Headteachers' Association, said: 'I think it's a combination of increased reporting, increased pressure on families, and schools feeling more confident about reporting, and giving a really strong message of what they will and will not tolerate.'

In Suffolk, crimes recorded at schools rose to the three-year high in 2014-15.

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Data supplied by Cambridgeshire police showed the total number of crimes at primary and secondary schools remained relatively stable over the past four years, with figure for 2015 on course to be slightly below that in 2014.

Teaching unions agreed that the sharp rise in violence against the person was likely to reflect more incidents being recorded, rather than schools becoming more violent.

Colin Collis, county secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: 'I go along with the idea that a lot more things are being reported. Schools, if anything, are going overboard on things that, in the past, would have been dealt with internally, and are now being reported to the police.'

He added that his members were reporting a rise in low-level disruption caused by pupils, which they found 'wearing', but not serious enough to involve the police.

Norfolk County Council emphasises that, despite the rise in reported offences, the figures were remained low across the more-than 400 schools and 110.000 school-aged children in the county.

A spokesman said: 'We are aware of a rise in permanent exclusions across Norfolk schools and many of these will be related to aggressive behaviour.'

He added that, although it has a limited role with regard to exclusions and behaviour management, the council's support included providing training and guidance to schools about behaviour management, and commissioning a range of alternative provisions for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

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