Looking ahead our first Focus Week after half-term is based on Community Crime Awareness Week and seeks to make students aware of the crimes that blight our locale, and to drum home the message about their personal responsibilities now and in adult life and their access to support if they are a victim of any crime.

The Lichfield District Council Community Delivery Plan 2022-2025 is very clear on the local issues – and it can be viewed here.

The main problems identified therein are all connected one way or another to the lives of our students and so it is vital we support them in avoiding involvement or detrimental impact. The four main issues are:

1. Domestic Abuse

In 2021/2022, there were 1,232 domestic abuse related crimes in Lichfield. This equates to 24 domestic abuse related incidents per week. In addition, domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime with an estimated 65% of incidents remaining unreported.

2. Anti-Social Behaviour

As a district, Lichfield experiences ASB rates lower than the force wide rate (15.1 per 1,000 population compared to 21 per 1,000 population) and rates have reduced by around 20% from the rates seen in 2020/2021. However, there are some hotspot areas which see rates much higher than the district average. ASB can have a significant impact on victims and disproportionally affects those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

3. County Lines

This is a live Lichfield issue and the use of county lines by organised crime groups is connected primarily to the trafficking of drugs but county lines are also linked to modern day slavery, people trafficking and child exploitation as well as serious and violent crime. Young males from disadvantaged areas are particularly vulnerable to recruitment into county lines activity by these organised crime groups and account for 2 out of every 10 individuals suspected or charged with drug supply offences. Groups target vulnerable young people with promises of money and protection.

4. Violence Against Women & Girls

Recent government research showed that girls in the UK do not feel safe at schools and other educational establishment and the majority of women and girls report feeling unsafe in public spaces. The government’s Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy highlights that 1in 5 women are a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime and 20% of women have experienced stalking since the age of 16. In 2021/2022 crimes in Lichfield which were flagged by the police as VAWG accounted for 12% of non-domestic related crimes and 24% of violent non-domestic offences. VAWG results in severe personal harm to the victims as well substantial community harm and public expectation around action is justifiably high.

As part of raising awareness on these issues, House tutor groups will be leading assemblies to their peers, and representatives from these classes met with Lichfield District Council officials and Staffordshire Police officers in order to explore the topics and to develop their understanding so that they can share it with their peers.

Lottie Hearn, Deputy Headteacher & Designated Safeguarding Lead, said: “A big part of our safeguarding duties is to prepare our students for life outside of school and so honing in on the very issues which blight our local community is a critical element of this. As a school we get the Domestic Violence notifications that blight our student’s homes, we liaise with agencies to support those children being drawn into County Lines, we educate our girls of their right to accept and challenge (with our support) any form of misogyny, and we set clear parameters for our students about behaviour in their community. School is not the sole answer to this – but we have a crucial role to play.”

Matt Allman, Headteacher, added: “Equally, we believe we have a responsibility to lay out the personal responsibilities that sit with our students: the formation of an innate sense of right and wrong, of human decency to those around us, and the duty we all have to create a better society are obligations that none of us should shy away from and are ones that we as a school drive home. We take responsibility for our students at all times of the year – whether they are in school or not – but the ideal objective is for those students to take responsibility for themselves snow and when they have families and homes of their own.”