Schools are increasingly called upon to support children and families with social needs beyond education, including safeguarding, prevention of extremism, and tackling youth violence.


There has been a movement towards greater cross-agency collaboration, where non-education professionals including social workers, mental health professionals and the police, have been brought into the school environment.

Although police officers have had some presence in UK schools for over 70 years, their numbers have markedly increased over time, having almost doubled in the past year alone[1]. This comes despite little available evidence to support their effectiveness in protecting and diverting young people from antisocial behaviour, violence or other criminal activity, and hence has raised concerns as to the impact this might have on the rights and wellbeing of young people. Of particular concern is the impact of police in school on BAME students, following widespread reports of racism within the police, and highlighted by the profound harm experienced by Child Q following an inappropriate strip search at school[2].

However, there appears to be substantial variation as to the nature of police involvement in schools across the country. Some appear to have more of a community liaison role, some work with schools to deliver lessons on behaviour and the law, whilst others are based in schools for much of their time.

CASCADE researchers are working in collaboration with The Policy Institute at King’s College London, who are leading the study. The study is funded by the Youth Endowment Fund, and it aims to evaluate the impact of police in schools on a range of outcomes for young people, including offending behaviour, wellbeing, and trust and confidence in the police.

Activities and Methods

Scoping and mapping: Through conducting interviews and surveys with key decision makers and managers in police forces across England and Wales, we will build a detailed picture of the extent, nature and intention of police in schools across England and Wales.

In-depth work: We will conduct interviews, focus groups and observations of practice with school police officers, school staff and students in schools in 10 representative police forces. This will help us to understand how police in schools operates, how it is managed, and the opinions and experiences of those involved. We will create of a logic model (or process flow diagram) for how ‘police in classrooms’ and ‘police in corridors’ are theorised to produce their intended outcomes.

Effectiveness trials: Based on the results of our scoping and mapping work, we will recruit schools to two pilot randomised controlled trials (RCTs). One will focus on ‘police in classrooms’ and the other on ‘police in corridors’ styles of intervention, to evaluate the impact of each approach to police in schools on offending behaviour.

Implementation and process evaluation: Alongside the RCTs we will pilot methods for an integrated implementation process evaluation (IPE). This work will measure the dose, reach, and fidelity of delivery of each police in schools intervention, in addition to evaluating evidence to support or refute the intervention logic model e.g. how it works (or doesn’t), how it impacts students in different contexts from different backgrounds and why.

This research will progress to a full RCT of effectiveness and IPE if the pilot stage proves this to be appropriate and feasible.


This research is ongoing

Lead Person

Principal Investigator from King’s College LondonProf Michael Sanders
Co-InvestigatorDavid Westlake
Co-InvestigatorVerity Bennett

Academics and Researchers

Academic StaffNina Maxwell
Academic StaffJonathan Ablitt
Researcher from King’s College LondonJulia Ellingwood
Researcher from King’s College LondonDr Kate Bancroft
Cambridge UniversityDr Peter Neyroud
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