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Specialist officers working to keep youngsters safe online

School liaison Eric, Geoff, Lindsey

School Liason Officers Eric Barrett, Geoff Illingworth and Lindsey Blackburn

As local results from a UK and European Force operation tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse and internet facilitated offending have been issued, the force is highlighting the work carried out by recently appointed specialist officers who work with schools and communities to keep children and young people safe in their neighbourhood and while they’re online.

Three School Liaison Officers, funded by Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, now work within the Communities and Partnerships Department, complementing work already carried out by their PCSO colleagues in Neighbourhood Policing who each act as Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for each school. 

The School Liaison Officers travel across the force area, working with primary and secondary schools, their pupils, staff and parents.   The officers also occasionally provide input at further or higher education venues.

The officers are also preparing educational packages on a variety of subjects and the materials will be available to every police officer or staff member who provides input at schools.

Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger who funds the posts said: “Engaging with our various communities is at the core of my work and I firmly believe we should engage with children and young people so that they have confidence in the police as they grow up.  I was keen to fund specialist officers to carry out school liaison work so that they could break down barriers while providing essential input on safety and citizenship to students.”

PCSO Lindsey Blackburn, who moved across to her School Liaison Officer role in July this year after completing a law degree then working for nearly 10 years in Stockton’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, explained:

“Our aim is to regularly engage with young people, break down barriers and increase their confidence in the police.  We endeavour to become part of the school community, working with students, teachers and parents alike.

“Part of our role is to identify key issues affecting children and the community, and providing education to help support and tackle those issues. 

“Based on current trends, we have identified 14 top topics – which cover everything from stranger danger; and knife crime to internet safety.

“We deliver sessions in a variety of ways – from school assemblies, to classroom based group work.

“These sessions are designed to provide children (and in some cases, parents) with relevant information and advice that will support them in making the right and safest choices.

“We look at each topic from a policing point of view – and we provide information on the law and the consequences of behaviour.

“Some of the most popular sessions are based around internet safety; online grooming; cyber bullying and sexting. All three School Liaison Officers are training to be CEOPS Ambassadors, and we use CEOP materials and resources to add support to the work that we do.”

Her colleague Geoff Illingworth joined the force as a PCSO in December 2006, working firstly across Middlesbrough and then in South Bank before moving across to his School Liaison Officer role this summer.

The third School Liaison Officer is Eric Barrett who joined as PCSO in 2003 after a 23 year career as a Physical Training Instructor in the Royal Navy where he reached the rank of Chief Petty Officer.  Eric worked across Stockton district during his time as PCSO in Neighbourhoods and, like his colleagues, moved across to Schools Liaison work this summer.

 

Posted on Thursday 7th December 2017
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