Met faces legal challenge over the deployment of officers in schools

Metropolitan Police faces legal challenge over the deployment of officers in schools as they are accused of causing ‘negative consequences’ for BAME boys

  • The family of a black autistic boy have taken the Met to the High Court in London
  • Boy A was investigated by the CPS after a verbal altercation with a teacher 
  • The lawyer representing A claimed that BAME boys and children with special educational needs  were subject to ‘disproportionately high police interventions’

The Metropolitan Police is facing a legal challenge over the deployment of officers in schools, which is said to have ‘disproportionality negative consequences’ for black and minority ethnic (Bame) boys and those with special educational needs.

The family of a black autistic boy, known only as A for legal reasons, is challenging the Met over so-called Safer Schools Officers (SSOs), about 300 of which are currently working in schools across London.

A, who says he was investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service after he got into a verbal altercation with a member of staff, is challenging the Met’s alleged failure to ‘monitor, assess and understand the equalities implications of putting police officers in schools in London’.

An undated file photo shows police using scanners for weapons screening at Lammas School and Sports College, Leyton, London

At a High Court hearing this week, Mrs Justice Eady gave permission for A’s legal challenge to proceed to a full hearing.

Sarah Hannett, representing A, told the court: ‘This is not a challenge to the principle of deploying police officers in schools.

‘It is about the failure to monitor, assess and understand the equalities implications of putting police officers in schools in London.’

She added: ‘Deploying police officers in schools may have benefits for students and the wider school community – it is no part of the claimant’s case that SSOs should not be deployed in his school or any other.

‘Indeed, the claimant and his mother hope that by so deploying them knife crime and serious youth violence can be reduced.

‘Yet the deployment of police officers in schools creates the obvious risk that children are more likely… to come into the criminal justice system.’

2018 file photo of the New Scotland Yard sign. The Metropolitan Police is facing a legal challenge over the deployment of officers in schools, which is said to have ‘disproportionality negative consequences’ for black and minority ethnic (Bame) boys and those with special educational needs

Ms Hannett said those children were more likely to be the subjects of ‘law enforcement interventions’ and ‘the collection of intelligence’, adding: ‘There is no doubt that such criminalisation can be detrimental to children (as it has been in the claimant’s case) and damaging to their long-term prospects.’

She submitted that Bame boys and children with special educational needs and disabilities were the subject of ‘disproportionately high levels of police interventions’.

Ms Hannett said the Met ‘monitors and seeks to understand the equality implications’ of stop and search powers, which also disproportionately affect Bame men – but ‘has not done that in relation to its use of SSOs’.

Dan Rosenberg, a solicitor 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, it was important to clarify whether the presence of police officers in schools may have disproportionality 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.

‘It is of obvious importance that the Met understands, monitors and addresses the equality implications of deploying police officers in schools. It simply cannot be done without the collection and analysis of relevant data.

‘The Metropolitan Police has not done that in relation to its use of Safer Schools Officers, and this is what we hope will be addressed as part of the judicial review.’

A full hearing of the claim against the Met Police is expected to be heard later this year.

 

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