Safe Schools and Communities Team (SSCT)
The Safe Schools and Communities Team (SSCT) is a dedicated team operating within Dorset Police.
It aims to prevent and reduce crime, anti-social behaviour and wrong-doing by and between children and young people. It also aims to safeguard young people when they are in the digital world.
Since 2005 the team has worked closely with schools, police colleagues and local safeguarding boards to identify individuals who would benefit from intervention and education in a number of areas, such as drug and alcohol misuse, offensive weapons, internet safety, child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and anti-social behaviour. The team delivers education and training in these areas to ensure the children and young people of Dorset have the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions about their behaviours.
The SSCT has three departments: community safety, youth out of court disposals and triage.
Community Safety involves the education and training of children and young people throughout the county. Training also includes training professionals such as teachers, how to recognise the signs and symptoms of issues that affect children and young people as well as informing them how to deal with these issues should they arise.
SSCT officers are trained in Restorative Justice, so they are able to deal with issues that require some form of focused intervention, but do not necessarily require the court process. This might be things such as bullying, shoplifting and possession of drugs.
The triage department aims to respond to school and internet incidents in schools more effectively. Incidents reported to police that take place in an educational setting and involve a school pupil are referred to the SSCT. This also includes youth internet safety incidents such as cyber bullying, unwanted sexual solicitations, aggressive behaviour and unwanted exposure to sexual material.
The funding from the Safer Dorset Fund goes towards the overall running of the SSCT. Find out more about the work the SSCT do.
Case Study 1
The Safe Schools and Communities Team (SSCT) attended an upper school in the County to deliver a personal safety education package called A Night to Remember to the school- Year 11 students*. At the end of the session the officer was approached by a student wishing to disclose, (on behalf of a friend), that a member of staff from the school had approached a fellow school pupil on a Saturday and shown him his penis and asked him to touch it.
The male student was too scared to tell anyone, however one of his friends had gone to the schools designated safeguarding lead (DSL) and informed them of what had happened. The DSL had unfortunately told the friend that they could not act on it, unless the male student reported it himself, which he didn’t feel able to do. SSCT officers contacted the Police Safeguarding Referral Unit (SRU) and the male was arrested and an investigation commenced. SSCT was asked by the investigating officers to advise the head teacher at the school about how this matter should have been dealt with, to prevent incidents of this type happening again. The male also received support from specially trained officers and external agencies.
*This programme highlights to students the safeguarding issues related to alcohol misuse within our town’s pubs and clubs. Information relating to violent crime statistics is shared along with local case studies involving rape, sexual assault and physical assaults. Students are given advice about how to keep themselves safe when visiting these areas
Case Study 2
A 14 year old male was reported to the Police for stealing lighter fluid from a local shop. The offence was deemed suitable for a Youth Restorative Disposal (YRD) and he was asked to attend a police station on a Saturday for the Safe Schools and Communities Team (SSCT) to provide that formal outcome. (the SSCT provide the outcome using a Restorative Justice(RJ) approach)
The boy’s mother became very upset as this was unusual behaviour for her son. During the RJ the male disclosed to the officer that previously he had found a relative unconscious on the floor at home, he commenced First Aid and CPR but unfortunately was unable to revive them. The boy then went on to explain that he had started inhailing lighter fluid as he blamed himself for not being able to save them and this helped him cope with this tragic event. His mum was relieved and also upset as she had noticed big changes in his behaviour and could not work out what the issue was.
The SSCT were able to refer to a partner agency for drug addiction to get support, and suggested a referral to their local GP to help the family with the bereavement.