School forced to erect fence to prevent abuse from locals
APRIMARY school has been forced to erect a 10ft fence between its playground and a housing estate to protect pupils from “intimidation and threatening gestures” from locals.
The move comes after youngsters at Twickenham Primary in Kingstanding were allegedly subjected to anti-social behaviour.
The school itself has also suffered criminal damage and break-ins with offenders allegedly using neighbouring gardens to gain access.
Since January 2016, a total of 39 reports have been made to West Midlands Police by the school, including nine incidents of unauthorised access on school grounds.
In response, education bosses ordered a 10ft corrugated metal fence to be built in August between the playground and housing estate. But while incidents have reduced they have not stopped completely, with an alleged break-in between January 12 and 13.
School bosses have also argued the fence is required to shield pupils from dangerous 5ft tall piles of rubbish dumped on the boundary separating the playground from homes.
The bizarre situation has come to light after Birmingham City Council deliberated over the school’s application to retain and finish off building the fence, which is painted blue on their side but left untreated on the side facing residents.
The need for a boundary has been backed by police.
A council report on the matter stated: “It is evident that Twickenham Primary School has suffered relatively extensive problems with crime and anti-social behaviour in recent years.
“The police’s subsequent investigations of the incidents have suggested that offenders are moving from one rear garden to another in order to access the school, exploiting any ‘weak spots’ they come across in the boundary.”
It adds: “West Midlands Police’s Designing Out Crime Officer fully supports the introduction of a substantial boundary treatment in this location.
“However, it should be noted that they do not necessarily consider the sheet metal fence design which has been constructed to be the only means of reducing incidences of crime.”
The report goes on to say: “...the school also wishes to limit visual interaction between the residential properties and the site, as a result of incidents where individuals have tried to intimidate pupils with inappropriate and threatening gestures.”
But neighbours submitted objections to the fence mainly due to its appearance, while some have raised concerns it would lead to further dumped rubbish, which in turn would attract rats.
Council officers recommended the fence remain in place, arguing it would prevent the school losing money due to crime whilst describing the situation as a ‘drain’ on police resources.
But the planning committee has deferred the application with councillors also expressing concerns about the appearance.
Councillor Barry Henley said: “We would not approve this if it had come to us unbuilt. It’s ugly.”
He added: “I don’t think it would cost too much money to take this down and put up a mesh fence, shrubs or panels. It’s horrible.”
But others sympathised with school.
Councillor Fiona Williams said: “I understand the school feels it has a responsibility to safeguard pupils and there are safeguarding issues they had to address.”
West Midlands Police was unable to provide further information on the nature of the incidents.
The school has been approached for comment on the matter. the