Puppet policeman to spread message

CLOSER TIES: Acting sergeant Andy Reed with Laxey School pupils James Quirk, 10, and Lonan Black, Meave Merrick, Will Farrant, Emma Bowker, Tom Barker and Gemma Nettle, all 11.

CLOSER TIES: Acting sergeant Andy Reed with Laxey School pupils James Quirk, 10, and Lonan Black, Meave Merrick, Will Farrant, Emma Bowker, Tom Barker and Gemma Nettle, all 11.

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THE police have launched an island-wide programme for working with primary schools.

A puppet police officer with the name Sam and his police car with registration MAN1E are set to become familiar visitors to the 35 primary schools.

The programme has been developed in liaison with the Department of Education and Children.

Leading the initiative is acting sergeant Andy Reed, who will co-ordinate the scheme across the island.

‘The relationship prior to this was hit and miss depending on the officer that covered the area and the school,’ he said.

‘Primary school children soak up information and it’s these years that are important in their development of forming personal opinions, making decisions and problem-solving.

‘It is also at this age that most children see the police as positive role models and heroes.

‘Our primary school children are our teenagers and our adults of the future. I strongly believe that if children come into contact with the police regularly and in a positive way from the beginning of primary school right through to Year 6, then seeing a police officer in school and out of school will no longer be a big deal and interacting with the police will be seen as the norm.

‘Hopefully it will have broken down any suspicions and perceptions that we are the enemy when these children move on to secondary schools, colleges and adult life.’

Three themes will be tackled during lessons provided by officers: personal safety, drug and substance awareness and social behaviour and community.

For example, reception class children (ages four to five) will meet an officer – many for the first time – and look at their uniform, car and equipment. Year 5 pupils (ages nine to 10) will be taught about the effects of tobacco, alcohol and solvents.

Year 6 pupils (ages 10 to 11) will learn the impact of reaching the age of criminal responsibility – age 10 – and to understand what constitutes theft, assault and criminal damage.

Police Officer Sam and MAN1E will feature as a theme, which will be given in a fun way using puppets, props, flash cards, games, quizzes and discussions

Schools will be provided with teachers’ packs to accompany the programme and teachers themselves will evaluate its benefits to children, with the impact measured against the Manx Government’s five desired outcomes for children – staying safe, being healthy, enjoying life and achieving, making a positive contribution and prospering.

A friendly police officer will be assigned to each school.

Each of the five Neighbourhood Police Teams has a youth champion who will ensure the programme is successfully delivered to all the primary schools within their neighbourhoods.

The programme has been trialled at primary schools in the east of the island, including Laxey School.

Head teacher Jean Aksoy said: ‘The programme is educational and delivered in a fun way but also helps develop positive relations between the local police and children.’

Appleby, the Athol Street law firm, has pledged to back the programme for three years.

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