Friday, April 01, 2011

Big Society's sinister school policing plan

News that the government plans to involve school students in policing their playgrounds and local neighbourhoods confirms the sinister intent behind the so-called Big Society project.

Far from getting people to take part in helping to boost volunteering and generate a greater sense of community, the Big Society is an ambitious authoritarian cloak to integrate virtually everyone into a Big Brother state.

Education secretary Michael Gove, whose grasp of reality often seems tenuous to put it mildly, has made it clear that schools will have to co-operate or lose out on funding.

He has made the student police scheme a condition of bidding for Academy or Free School status. Schools that do not include pupil policing plans will have their applications rejected out of hand.

Gove told the Commons committee on the future of education: “Some may see this as heavy-handed Whitehall interference, but they would be wrong. We are setting schools free but we also want them to take their community role seriously.”

He claims that getting students as young as 12 involved in policing is not as outrageous as it seems: “After all, the age of criminal responsibility is 10 in England and Wales. So what’s wrong with getting youngsters acting against criminals?”

The government apparently hopes that getting school students into policing at an early age can help prevent outbreaks of “mindless violence” such as took place in London on March 26. Ministers clearly do not have the Territorial Support Group of the Metropolitan Police in mind here.

Policing and criminology experts have roundly condemned Gove’s proposals, which have the backing of prime minister Cameron while his deputy, Nick Clegg, remains undecided on the merits of the scheme.

Professor Aaron Cohen, Department of Criminology at King’s College, London, decried the loss of the “age of innocence” inherent in Gove’s madcap scheme. He remarked:

“Policing is a function of the state and it is a serious business to be undertaken by paid professionals. Blurring the line between the police and young people in this way is outrageous. It will do nothing to build trust and could alienate young people who take part from their peers.”

And Professor Slavoj Keziz, from the School of East Europen and Slavonic Studies, said the scheme reminded him of the notorious atmosphere in East Germany where the Stasi secret police made informers out of very young people. “Is this the road we’re going down in Britain. Is this showing the world how democracy works? I am appalled.”

But don’t expect Liberty to advocate for the rights of young people. The organisation worked hand-in-hand with the police and TUC bureaucrats on March 26 and in an outrageous statement after the event attacked “violent elements” who “infiltrated” the march, only to leave it to “attack high profile commercial properties and the police”

A spokesperson for Liberty said that Gove’s plan had its “attractions” and would be considered in detail before any further comment was made. Thank you and good night!

In a further inducement to students to get involved in the Schools Police scheme, there are reports that they will get a special uniform and earn credits towards their GCSEs. Schools unions, including the National Union of Teachers, have condemned Gove’s latest plan to break up state education.

The creepy Big Society project is spreading its tentacles everywhere. It should be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with Con-Dem government. We wait for the TUC to stop congratulating itself for March 26 and get on with mobilising millions to organise a regime change in Britain.

Paul Feldman

Communications editor

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