Presenting author: Andre Gomes
Presenting author biography:
André is the Editor of TalkingDrugs.org, and coordinates communications at Release (UK).
André also works with drug harm reduction groups, engaging in policy analysis and developing their communications strategies. He is a member of YouthRISE's International Working Group.
Building a police-free future for our schools
Several high profile cases of police abuse of young people both within and outside educational contexts in the UK have raised questions around the need and legitimacy of placing police in schools. Police are dispatched to schools for “protection”, or to educate children about the harms of drugs; instead, they bring the carceral system into what should be safe pedagogic spaces. Police in schools bring young people into early, and often traumatic, contact with the criminal justice system in a racist and classist manner, developing an early culture of state surveillance. To further complicate this issue, information on police presence in schools is usually not publicly available, hiding the scale of this practice.
While the police’s role in educating young people about drugs and their potential harms is already criticised, drug policy reformers must build an advocacy plan that helps activists identify the scale of the educational policing issue in their context, and build alternatives that abolish their presence.
The project will conduct a literature review as well as interviews with drug policy campaigners and racial justice abolitionists within the UK and across YouthRISE’s international network who have identified police presence in schools as a barrier to adequate drug education and safe learning environments; it will (i) outline the drug-related harms that police’s presence in schools exacerbate, and (ii) identify successful strategies to remove their presence. This will include methods to generate community-based safety and knowledge around drug use that entirely abolishes the need for police presence.
This research has not been conducted despite the need for a more thorough understanding of the dynamic created by police presence in schools. The outcome will be an action-oriented document that explores the case for abolishing police presence, alongside recommendations of how this goal can be achieved in local contexts around the world.