Green mayoral candidate suggests police should stay away from schools

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Service

Police should get out of schools, where they’re not wanted, and back into communities, the Green Party’s candidate for London Mayor has said.

Zoë Garbett said evidence showed that teenagers were being ‘criminalised’ by officers who visit schools in order to promote a ‘safer environment’.

She made the comments at a hustings for London mayoral candidates in Westminster on Tuesday, organised by deaf and disabled people’s charity, Inclusion London.

Ms Garbett said: “We want to look at what the Met are doing with their time, making sure they’re not in spaces that overly criminalise young people. We’ve talked about getting police out of schools and into neighbourhood teams.

“We know from evidence from Liberty, the social justice charity, that police being in schools often criminalises black young people, Gypsy, Roma [and] Traveller young people, disabled young people and LGBTQI+ young people. We know from those young people that they don’t want police in schools.”

Ms Garbett’s comments were in response to a question about what she would do to tackle disability hate crime and combat ableism, racism, sexism and homophobia in the Met.

Last year, a Freedom of Information request made by race equality charity the Runnymede Trust revealed there were 489 officers in schools across London. Half of all officers in UK schools are in the capital.

Ms Garbett was the only mayoral candidate from the four leading parties in the contest to attend the event at The Abbey Centre on Tuesday afternoon. Current mayor and Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, Conservative candidate Susan Hall and Liberal Democrat candidate Rob Blackie all chose to send representatives in their place.

Standing in for Mayor Khan, Rachel Blake, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Cities of London and Westminster, highlighted the current mayor’s work to reform the Met, including initiating the Casey review into behaviour and culture in the force, and pushing for the resignation of former Met boss Cressida Dick.

Andrew Boff, Conservative London Assembly member, said Susan Hall was committed to spending another £200 million on the Met and said part of the cash would be used to tackle the force’s culture problem.

Representing Rob Blackie, Hina Bokhari, Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, said the party wanted more officers visible on the streets and in local communities.

Ms Bokhari, who said she had asked to stand in for Mr Blackie, also said the Liberal Democrats were committed to reforming the Met.

Pictured top: Zoe Garbett (Picture: London Green Party)

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