By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP, right, has today criticised the Scottish Government for failing to ensure that the Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) is not being used to allow police officers to police in school.
Earlier this year, the children’s charity Aberlour found that £2 million of the Government’s £520 million Pupil Equity Fund had been used in some local authorities to fund police officers in school. When questioned by Mr Rennie in parliament, the Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Sommerville stated twice that police were “not policing in schools”
Last month, Mr Rennie asked Ms Somerville if the Scottish Government could provide a breakdown of the types of projects in schools involving Police Scotland and whether the Education Secretary could clarify whether those local authorities which had been found to have used PEF for police officers in school, had confirmed if this practice would stop.
In response to Mr Rennie’s first question, the government repeated that the police, “are not policing in schools.” However, in response to the second question, Ms Somerville said that the government, “has had no specific discussions about this issue” with local councils.
Commenting on the responses given by Ms Sommerville, left, Mr Rennie said: “Each time I have asked the Cabinet Secretary about what Police Officers, funded by PEF money, are doing in schools, she has adamantly told me they are not policing. Yet, she has now confirmed that the Government has not spoken to either Councils or the Police to make sure this is actually the case.
“It is deeply worrying that the Scottish Government don’t actually know whether or not officers are policing children in schools.
“Rather than effectively branding young people as criminals the funds should be used for boosting their education.
“The cabinet secretary needs to stop swerving these important questions. If police officers are not policing, she must provide details about what projects they are doing and how these are helping close the poverty related attainment gap.”