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Schools get smart about security

Date: 16/07/2008           Category: Learning and Achievement

Young crime busters have been helping protect their school from thieves. Pupils at Delce Junior School in The Tideway, Rochester, were this week, ( Monday, 14 July), marking up their computers and valuable ICT equipment with an innovative security coded liquid paint as a deterrent to thieves. The paint, called SmartWater, has been given to every school in Medway as part of a jointly-funded venture between Medway Council and Kent Police in Medway to combat the theft of school equipment and lead roofing. The colourless solution contains a reference code unique to each school or individual. Although the solution dries invisible when applied to items such as ICT equipment and overhead projectors, it reveals details of the item’s owner when shone under an ultraviolet light, making it easier for the police to trace items back to their owners. The dye also leaves a mark on criminals who have come into contact with SmartWater-marked items. In 2007/8 the theft of IT equipment from Medway schools was in excess of £25,000, while the associated damage as a result of burglary or theft was £46,000. Delce Junior School headteacher Sue Burt welcomed the campaign. She said: “Delce Junior School is pleased to be working with Medway Council and Kent Police. “Although the school doesn't traditionally have a problem with break-ins, there are many schools that do, and thefts of valuable equipment take time, money and energy away from our core purpose of teaching and learning. “Involving the children in the launch has helped them see that they can be instrumental in making their community a better place to be.” Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Les Wicks is confident the SmartWater technology will deter criminals from targeting schools. He said: “This is an exciting venture which we hope will reduce the number of schools that become victims of burglary. “Thieves who steal from our schools have a detrimental effect on our children’s education by taking important objects needed to develop their learning. I am confident this new equipment will help stamp out thefts from schools once and for all.” Medway Council’s Director of Children and Adults Rose Collinson said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Kent Police in Medway to make sure our children and young people can learn and achieve safely in schools and settings that have not been burgled or vandalised.” Insp Dave Coleman, who has coordinated the initiative, said: ”There has been a significant increase in the value of scrap metal and in turn this has resulted in thefts of metals increasing. ”A common target for thieves is lead flashing, copper piping, plumbing material and cabling. In Medway we know that roof flashing is commonly stolen. ”Both the police and council want to make life as hard as possible for a thief and have worked together to roll out the use of SmartWater in every school in time for the summer holiday. ”Our message is simple, if you break into a school in Medway, there is a good chance we can forensically link you to the scene of the crime thanks to the introduction of SmartWater. I am confident that this campaign will not only help us charge those who do not listen to our warnings but also deter potential burglars.” Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Enforcement Cllr Rehman Chishti added: “The theft from schools can have a detrimental effect on children’s learning by causing disruption and making equipment unavailable to staff and pupils. “Marking equipment with SmartWater should hopefully deter would-be thieves and make it easier to recover stolen equipment.”