An officer assaulted an autistic boy. It’s time to get police out of schools.

School-based police officer assaults autistic 10-year-old
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Content warning: the video below contains footage some readers may find distressing

On 7 September, Channel 4 News shared distressing footage of a school-based police officer assaulting an autistic 10-year-old pupil. Merseyside Police has introduced further training for its officers based in schools. But campaigners argue that more training is not the answer, and that police in schools will always be a harmful problem rather than a solution.

No police in schools

Distressing CCTV footage shows Merseyside Police school-based officer PC Christopher Cruise threatening to kick an autistic 10-year-old boy who is lying on the ground. The officer proceeds to drag the boy across the floor and fling him through a door. Channel 4 News shared:

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School-based police officers carry out policing and surveillance on school grounds. We have seen an increasing presence of police in UK schools in recent years. Campaigners have raised concerns that the presence of police and state violence in educational settings will disproportionately impact children with special educational needs and disabilities, and working-class pupils from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Responding to the footage, campaign group Kids of Colour tweeted:

The Northern Police Monitoring Project added:

In July, No Police in Schools campaigners celebrated the success of their campaign calling on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to halt plans to place more police officers in local schools and to remove existing school-based officers. In response to the campaign, Manchester city council motioned to remove and re-deploy all existing officers in local schools. However, council leaders reiterated their commitment to stationing 20 more officers in Manchester schools. As demonstrated by Cruise’s abhorrent behaviour, the fight to protect children and young people from overpolicing is far from over.

Expressing her dismay, one Twitter user shared:

Dolores Lee added:

The UK is not innocent

Speaking out about the very real issue of police in UK schools, Kids of Colour founder Roxy Legane tweeted:

Indicating what the UK’s education system could look like if we continue to see an increasing police presence in schools, US-based youth-led Alliance for Educational Justice shared:

More training isn’t the answer

Cruise has been fined and convicted of assault. According to Merseyside Police, it has provided their school-based officers with further training following the incident. But campaigners are arguing that training is not enough, and that the footage demonstrates exactly why police should never be stationed in schools.

One Twitter user said:

The Network for Police Monitoring added:

National Education Union Manchester president and No Police in Schools campaigner Vik Chechi-Ribeiro shared:

The campaign continues

Reflecting on the struggles and triumphs of the ongoing campaign to remove police from UK schools and introduce measures that support young people, Kids of Colour’s Roxy Legane shared:

The distressing footage reflects what No Police in Schools campaigners have been arguing: that policing is never a solution, especially when it comes to marginalised and vulnerable children and young people. As campaigners have highlighted, “young people need support, not suspicion”. This means investment in youth workers, counsellors, teachers, and other services which support pupils rather than policing which traumatises them. People looking to take action can get involved in the campaign via No Police in Schools’ website.

Featured image via Channel 4 News/Twitter

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