Police Out of School, 1985

I’ve not been able to get hold of an actual copy of this publication – if you have one, please get in touch!

A kind donor has scanned and emailed their copy of the publication, which is now online here.

Police Review: “25 years ago” feature:


A London branch of the National Union of Teachers issued a pamphlet calling for police officers to be banned from visiting schools.

It wanted the ban to include lectures on road safety and child abuse.

The pamphlet, from the Hackney branch of the NUT, claimed that admitting officers to schools ‘makes it impossible for teachers to retain the confidence of black parents and pupils’.

Five-a-side football matches and discos run by the Met were described as a cosmetic exercise, while decisions to limit open days at police stations to the more friendly stations were criticised.

The leaflet also contained details of alleged police harassment of schools, including phone tapping, interference with mail, ‘helicopter observation of the playground’ and interrogation of nursery age children.

The authors of the pamphlet, ‘Police out of school’, said they hoped all London boroughs would follow Hackney’s lead. Eight out of 10 comprehensives in the borough followed the policy but only a quarter of primary schools did.

The proposal to ban officers from schools had, however, already been condemned by national NUT officials.

Police Review quoted one as saying: ‘Its ideas seem totally inimical to the sort of attitudes our members wish to promote.

House of Commons debate on Policing (London)
HC Deb 11 July 1986 vol 101 cc622-53

Mr. Ernie Roberts (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington):

We are today considering the report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and the review of public order. I want to say a few words about what the role of the police should be. We have heard about what the role is and we have heard from my hon. Friends about the considerable number of problems that arise as a result of the lack of proper policing in London. I understand that the role of the police is to see that the law is enforced. It should also be for the defence of democracy and freedom in this country and to defend the rights of the common people.

Many problems face the police. That is quite clear from the Commissioner’s report to the House. Reference has recently been made to the fact that there are about 3—5 million offences each year. Of the offences mentioned in the Commissioner’s report, some 20,000 are concerned with violence. The so-called public order issues — in other words, victories which have been achieved — include the police victory against the miners, and police victories against the printers, hospital workers, nuclear protesters and others who have attempted to exercise their democratic rights in this country either as trade unionists or as citizens concerned with peace.

All that, and the many other problems that arise out of bad policing in this country, happen because of the philosophy of the Prime Minister and her Government. We have a competitive society in which people battle and victory goes to those who are strong and wealthy. Society has become more and more like a jungle as a result of the insistence upon a competitive society. I would rather we had a society based more on mutual aid and co-operation.

Hackney, the area I represent, has one of the highest crime rates. I notice from the figures produced that in the first quarter of this year some 7,417 crimes have been put on record. There has been a poor response to the citizens’ call for aid from the police. A petition was presented to me last week, signed by over 100 home owners in one street. They complained about the lack of response from the Mare street police to their pleas of assistance because of the large number of offences that have been committed. That petition has been sent on to the Home Secretary.

On the other hand, there is over-policing of street demonstrations, during strikes and so on. I have had occasion to complain about that in the Hackney area, where there have been as many policemen as demonstrators walking through the streets. However, I was responsible for organising some 83,000 people in a demonstration proceeding from Trafalgar square to Victoria park in Hackney. There was not one incident and there was no trouble. The Home Secretary can look it up. Masses of police were not needed. Similarly, there was a demonstration of 100,000 people across to Brixton on the issue of Nazism. Again, there was no need for the masses of police put on to the streets for such events.

We need police on the streets, but we need them on the beat, where the people can see them, go to them and get their assistance. There is still far too much of the Starsky and Hutch approach by the police to policing in London.

There have been numerous cases of bad behaviour, which I have referred to various Home Secretaries over a period. All those complaints have led to a loss of public support. For example, that loss of public support is shown in Hackney, where a pamphlet called “Police out of School” has been produced because of the bad relations that have developed between the public and the police. The teachers have had to take a stand on the matter so that attention may be drawn to it.

All those problems cannot be solved by introducing so-called new weapons, whether water cannon, gas, plastic bullets, flails or armoured vehicles. What is needed is co-operation between the police and the local authorities. The Commissioner has refused co-operation with Hackney borough council’s police committee. All political parties on the council and all ethnic groups are represented on that committee. I have a letter from the commander of the police dated 8 October 1985—the last letter I received—saying: a period of calm must prevail before we return to the vital task of setting up a Consultative Group for Hackney … I will write to you again shortly”. There is no consultative committee, but Hackney borough council has set up a committee on which there should be consultation. The sooner that is done, the better. I urge the Home Secretary to give his authority to the local police to meet the Hackney borough council police committee so that they may look at the problems and see what can be done, on the basis of co-operation, to solve the crimes in that area.

2 thoughts on “Police Out of School, 1985

  1. Pingback: “Police Out of School” – Hackney Teachers’ Association, 1985 | The Radical History of Hackney

  2. Pingback: When Hackney (almost) defunded the Police | The Radical History of Hackney

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.