The Victorian Opposition plans to embed full-time police officers at problem Victorian schools.Fighting crime in the classroom is the latest election promise by Victoria’s tough-talking would-be premier Matthew Guy.
The coalition opposition leader wants to station full-time police officers at the state’s most troublesome schools to nip crime in the bud.
The plan would place a full-time officer permanently at 10 Victorian schools in “at risk” areas on a two-year trial basis, Mr Guy said.
“This is about combating crime before it’s a problem, it’s about respect, it’s about tolerance,” the opposition leader said of his latest in a string of changes he would make to crime and education laws.
The n Education Union was quick to slam Mr Guy’s proposal, saying it is proof the coalition is out of touch with the needs of schools.
“Instead of funding a small number of police in less than one per cent of our schools, Matthew Guy must promise not to cut school funding,” union president Meredith Peace said.
But Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt welcomed the plan, saying it had a role in improving the relationship between police and youth.
“The notion of kids engaging with cops can never be a bad thing,” he said, keen to see more detail of the plan.
The metropolitan and regional schools are yet to be selected and it would be up to police command to decide if the officers would be armed.
“The police would be operational and on-duty and of course it would be a matter for the chief commissioner as to what those police would carry on their person,” opposition police spokesman Edward O’Donohue told reporters.
In addition to the trial, there will be 100 new police officers employed to work as ‘school resource officers’. Together the program is expected to cost $50 million over four years.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said Victoria Police has not sought 100 extra officers, or for officers to be embedded in schools.
“When we went to Victoria Police and said ‘what else do you need to tackle youth offending in this state?’ They said ‘well we’ve got about 100 youth resource workers now, we’d like 42 more,’ and that’s what we funded,” she said.
Police work with schools and the community “every single day” and most young people who are responsible for serious youth offences are not attending classes, the minister added.
Mr Guy’s proposal follows his recent bid to change school curriculum priorities to focus on “the principles of Western enlightenment”, namely, literacy, numeracy and writing skills.