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Police in schools

The role of police in schools broadly covers three areas: 

  • Education – working with teachers to support learning in the classroom or through assemblies
  • Engagement – building positive relationships and early intervention
  • Enforcement – responding to specific crimes or targeted policing activity such as patrolling to detect and prevent crime.

This page brings together key information, research and guidance that members may find useful to support best practice around these possible roles of police in schools. NAHT continues to work with relevant organisations, including government, to press for clear guidance and resources to support good practice for positive engagement between police and young people in schools. 

Research evidence

NAHT has created a literature review of recent research into the impact and efficacy of police officers working directly in schools, Police in Schools: a review of the evidence.

It aims to provide a helpful summary of findings and evidence in this area and to signpost relevant research literature. Members may find this helpful when planning for or considering a police presence in their school.

Overall, the evidence base for the efficacy of police in schools is weak, and more research is needed on a range of approaches and programmes before a clear conclusion can be made as to the impacts – both positive and negative – of collaboration between schools and the police. 


The PSHE Association and the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) have produced a handbook for PSHE teachers and the police, Police in the classroom: A handbook for the police and PSHE teachers.

The handbook provides examples of best practice, presents best approaches to using police in the classroom and provides tips, practical guidance and support – to help make working together as effective as possible.

Lesson packs for key stage three utilising these best practice approaches were designed for Thames Valley schools working with schools officers, covering:

  • understanding criminal exploitation
  • violence prevention
  • drug education.


This may include activity such as safer schools partnerships or targeted interventions with individuals or groups of students. 

As shown in the literature review, the evidence base is weak, and seems to suggest a limited positive benefit in a small number of areas, mixed or no impact on a larger number of areas, and some negative impacts, particularly on BAME children. 

Therefore, NAHT continues to press government to undertake a review of the direct impact of police engagement within schools to assess the positive benefits. Where schemes of engagement have little positive impact, funding should be redeployed to support initiatives, including youth services, that are more effective in supporting young people.


The NPCC advice When to call the police: guidance for schools and colleges covers incidents on school and college premises where students have potentially committed a crime and aims to support schools and colleges to make defensible decisions when considering whether to involve the police.

This statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education sets out the legal duties schools and colleges must follow to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 including potential police involvement.

This guidance is clear that the designated safeguarding lead and head teacher should be aware of any police investigation and this should include being aware of the requirement for children to have an appropriate adult (AA). Where a suspect is a child, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) requires the presence of an AA for many procedures, including voluntary interviews. The National Appropriate Adult Network has further information on the role of the AA.

The guidance Searching, screening and confiscation in schools explains the powers schools have to screen and search pupils, and to confiscate items they find. This guidance has a specific section on strip searches on school premises which can only be carried out by police officers. While the decision to undertake the strip search itself and its conduct are police matters, school staff retain a duty of care to the pupil(s) involved and should advocate for pupil well-being at all times.



First published 22 April 2024