Make way for new officers in town
All dressed up in police uniform with pocket notebooks at the ready, 15 junior constables from Woodthorpe Community Primary School certainly looked the part.
The Year 5 pupils were the latest recruits in South Yorkshire Police’s ‘Mini Police’ programme, aimed at encouraging good behaviour on school grounds.
Margaret Lawson, community safety manager, said similar programmes have been set up in Lincolnshire and Durham. The initiative has now been picked up in 12 primary schools across Sheffield and Doncaster – a launch event took place at Woodthorpe Community Primary.
She said: “Pupils will come in over a period time and deliver about six to seven activities so they might be inputs around internet safety or issues concerning the school.
“So once they get to the end of that time, the mini police officers will then deliver the message back to that year group or to the rest of the school.
“It’s about the young giving out messages to their peers and children – a bit better than adults telling them what to do.”
The mini officers do not have the authority to apprehend their peers, however.
Community safety project officer Claire France said: “We are not asking them to police the school or arrest people.
“Their responsibilities are entirely based in school, from the playground, the lunch hall and whatever they can do in setting out good behaviour.
“We just want them to set good examples. They can also design their own parking tickets to raise awareness on road safety, as a way to make a difference.”
The children are also being urged to get out into their communities by organising litter picks, galas or speed-watch schemes.
Loreece Kadiki, 10, said behaving respectfully was important.
She said: “The important bit about being a police officer is to be able to understand that we need to show respect to the people and not to get them in trouble or detention.
“More importantly, we need to be responsible to other kids and be more polite and nice to each other.”
Woodthorpe’s deputy headteacher Karen Bister said: “I am proud of the community and the children. I know they are going to be a positive influence.”
As part of the programme, funded by the Volunteer Police Cadets, the children are provided with a uniform and also build up rewards for the school, which can mean visits from police horses and other specialist teams.