Independent schools targeted by criminals during pandemic

Independent schools across the UK have been targeted by criminals during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 58% experiencing crime, according to new research

Independent schools across the UK have been targeted by criminals during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new survey showing that 58% have experienced some form of crime over the last 12 months.

This was higher than in other types of schools, with 35% of schools surveyed overall experiencing crime over the past year.

The findings come from new research from specialist insurer Ecclesiastical, which commissioned OnePoll to survey teachers from 24 February to 8 March 2021. Out of the 500 teachers surveyed, 104 were from independent schools.

The survey found that 26% of independent schools had suffered anti-social behaviour since the start of the pandemic, higher than the 16% experienced by schools overall.

Trespassing (15%), graffiti (17%), cyber-crime (17%) and theft of laptops or devices (12%), were also cited as top crimes experienced by independent schools.

Thirty-seven per cent of independent school teachers felt their school was more vulnerable to crime during the pandemic, citing fewer staff on site during the national lockdowns and entrances being left open more frequently to increase air ventilation, when schools were closed.

Fencing around the perimeter can often offer a good first line of defence against unwanted visitors, while CCTV can act as a visual deterrent for those not wanting to be caught on camera – Faith Kitchen, Ecclesiastical Insurance

The majority of independent schools (75%) introduced new measures to protect the school since the outbreak of the pandemic. More than a third (36%) of those schools introduced CCTV, 30% fitted alarms and 23% built more security fencing.

Faith Kitchen, education director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “Independent schools have been far more vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and other forms of crime over the last year. School properties were often left largely unoccupied or even empty when schools were closed to the majority of pupils, tempting opportunists.

“For schools, crime experienced within school property can be a stressful event for teachers, as it is they who are left to deal with the implications of teaching without laptops or equipment, while leadership has to tackle the expenses incurred.”

Kitchen said a combination of physical and electronic protection is ideal to secure school property and assets.

“Fencing around the perimeter can often offer a good first line of defence against unwanted visitors, while CCTV can act as a visual deterrent for those not wanting to be caught on camera,” Kitchen added.

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