School forced to erect fence to pre­vent abuse from lo­cals

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Staff Re­porter

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

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