Cutting Police visits to schools would be a retrograde step and result in a generation of children losing out on vital advice and information, according to a North Wales AM, who has called on the Government to rethink its plans to cut funding towards the SchoolBeat programme.
The All Wales Schools Liaison Core Programme, known as SchoolBeat, which is a jointly funded programme between the Welsh Government and the Police, ensures that designated Police officers visit each school across the country talking to children from 4 to 16 years old about substance misuse, domestic violence, online safety, sexting and other key issues facing children today.
Raising the issue in the Senedd yesterday, Llyr Gruffydd AM told the Welsh Government’s Leader of the House, “Bearing in mind the emphasis on the need to tackle adverse childhood experiences, cutting this service would be a retrograde step, and it would undermine an important means to convey important messages directly to children and young people who might be affected.”
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Education Secretary, said that the Government’s plans to cut its funding would lead to a generation of children losing out on critical information.
“It’s disappointing that the Government doesn’t value the good work done by SchoolBeat. These Police Officers have contact with children of all backgrounds across Wales and they talk to them directly about vitally important issues, such as substance misuse, domestic violence and online safety. These are the issues facing our children today, and we have a duty to engage with them. I’m glad that the Police Commissioner for North Wales has committed funds to continue with the SchoolBeat Programme albeit at a reduced level, and I urge the Welsh Government to show the same vision and allow these Police officers to carry on with their good work. After all prevention is better than cure, and this programme will undoubtedly save a lot of pain in the longer term.”
Arfon Jones, the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the All Wales Policing Group said, “Commissioners and Chief Constables discussed the Schoolbeat funding at our meeting this week and we are concerned at the implications of this cut. Personally I believe this is a short sighted decision without assessing the impact. It contradicts and goes against other Welsh Government priorities like the Adverse Childhood Experiences project and compliance with the Wellbeing and Future Generations Act. The decision should be reversed in the interests of the health and wellbeing of children and young people”.
“All Wales Schools Liaison Core Programme (AWSLCP) – The AWSLCP operates in primary and secondary schools across Wales with 95% of schools engaged in the last academic year. The programme is jointly funded by Welsh Government (£1.98m per annum) and the police (£1.34m per annum). The programme aims to ensure that all pupils have opportunities to enhance their knowledge, understanding, behaviour, attitudes, values and skills regarding: substance misuse; healthy relationships; anti social behaviour and personal safety. Our long term aim is to embed the substance misuse element of this work as part of the changes to the schools curriculum. This will enable education and 8 awareness raising to be integrated into the curriculum in order to ensure the work continues on prevention and building personal resilience amongst young people. We therefore plan to phase out the AWSLCP during 2019- 20, pending the implementation of the new curriculum.”