On Tuesday 24 January a serving officer with the Metropolitan Police plead guilty to several child sex offences at Wood Green Crown Court.
PC Hussain Chehab – who has worked as a ‘safer schools officer – admitted several counts of sexual activity with a child. He also plead guilty to making indecent photographs of a child, and sexual communication with a child.
His guilty plea comes on the heels of another Met Police officer pleading guilty to 29 sex offences, including 14 counts of rape. Armed police officer David Carrick’s attacks took place over an 18-year period.
Back in 2021, Met Police officer Wayne Couzens – part of the same Met police armed unit as Carrick – pleaded guilty to the abduction, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard.
Get all police officers out of our schools
Many people responded on Twitter, pointing out that this is a wake up call to get cops out of our schools. According to the Runnymede Trust there are currently 979 officers posted in schools. The officers are largely posted in schools in poorer areas, and where there are higher numbers of Black students and people of colour.
Artist-activist Marlon Kameka tweeted:
GET ALL POLICE OFFICERS OUT OF SCHOOLS!
PC Hussain Chehab admits four counts of sexual activity with a girl aged 13 to 15, as well as three counts of making indecent photographs of a child, and one of engaging in sexual communication with a child. https://t.co/j8f4XwbUmw
— Marlon Kameka (@MarlonKameka) January 25, 2023
The Black Kids Matter twitter account demanded an end to police in schools:
— Kelechi (@kelechnekoff) January 25, 2023
Remember Child Q
The Northern Police Monitoring Project, Kids of Colour, and the No Police in Schools Campaign have written an open letter in response to Chehab’s guilty plea. The letter is for Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester; the Greater Manchester Combined Authority; head teachers in Greater Manchester, “and anyone who supports the placement of police in schools”.
Learning today that a ‘safer schools officer’ has been charged with child sex offences is awful. We’re horrified that once again, police have been allowed to harm children.
We’re sending solidarity and strength to the individuals and their families and loved ones as they try to work through their trauma.
The authors of the letter are urging people not to forget Child Q – a Black student who was strip searched by Met Police Officers at her school in Hackney in 2020. They also mention the heartbreaking case of an autistic boy assaulted by the police at his school in Merseyside in September 2001. They argued:
This is another example of police officers deeply harming children. Many will remember the horrific news of Child Q being strip searched and then learning that this was one of thousands of strip searches by police officers. 3,939 (75%) of these children were from non-white backgrounds and 16 of them were aged between 10 and 12 years old. Others will remember how a school-based police officer assaulted an autistic 10-year-old pupil in Merseyside.
The campaign groups pointed out that these cases may only be the tip of the iceberg, and more police violence in schools is likely going unreported. Meanwhile, plans are underway to hand more funding to the cops. They argue that the incidents they mentioned:
are just some of the cases of harm that have been spoken about in the media, and each one alone shows that police officers have no place in our schools. Meanwhile, Andy Burnham is instead consulting right now on whether to raise council taxes to give more money to Greater Manchester Police.
Our children need safety and support, not cops
The campaigners have carried out a community survey on how they’d like education funding to be spent. The answer was on care, not cops:
Our communities know that police are not the solution. In our report ‘Decriminalise the Classroom’, which surveyed 554 people from across Greater Manchester, we asked community members how they would like funding to be spent when it comes to education. The answer was youth workers, counsellors and more teachers. Children deserve safety and support, instead of being at risk of harm and criminalisation.
They pointed out the real risk of harm that placing police in schools poses:
Every day that Mayors and Head Teachers are happy for police to be in our schools, our children could be harmed and traumatised. We’re calling on you to protect children and young people by removing school-based, linked, or affiliated police officers immediately and instead use any council tax increases to fund education.
Placing cops in schools is dangerous, racist, and classist
Lets make no mistake about it, placing cops in schools is dangerous. Policing is inherently violent – it’s not about education or care. Incidents like the strip searching of Child Q at her school or the assault on an autistic boy in a place he should have been supported are terrible, but they are not a surprise. That’s how police act on our streets, why would they act any differently in our schools? Hussain Chehab – an officer who would have had direct contact with students and parents – admitting to child sex offences is just another example of why the cops shouldn’t be anywhere near young people.
As the Runnymede Trust showed, police are disproportionately more likely to be in schools where there are a higher amount of students receiving free school meals. This corresponds with areas where poor, working class people, Black people, and other people of colour live. These communities are being singled out for more policing, and thus more violence.
There are growing calls for an end to the placing of police officers in schools. These calls are coming from the communities who are most affected – it’s our job to amplify and support them.
Featured image via Unsplash/Tadas Petrokas
- Check out the Northern Police Monitoring group’s ‘Decriminalise the Classroom’ report
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