Policing the playgrounds with East Dunbartonshire’s campus cops

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KEEPING youngsters on the straight and narrow is all in a day’s work for campus cops PC Gerry Christie and PC Stuart Cairns.

Gerry (44) and Stuart (29) have been working with pupils in East Dunbartonshire’s secondary schools since August 2012 and both relish the unique challenges their jobs present.

Gerry – who is originally from Kirkintilloch – covers Kirkintilloch High, Lenzie Academy and St Ninian’s, while Stuart, from Coatbridge, deals with Boclair Academy, Douglas Academy and Bearsden Academy.

The pair are jointly responsibility for Bishopbriggs Academy and Turnbull High.

It’s a full-time, wide-ranging role for the pair.

Gerry spent 17 years on the beat in Maryhill and Possilpark before arriving back in Kirkintilloch, where he worked in community policing before taking up his current role.

The former St Ninian’s High pupil said: “Previously campus officers were assigned to one school, but now they tend to cover a few – we’re really liaison officers for the schools.

“Our role includes operating the early and effective intervention process (EEI) where we sort things out before it becomes necessary to go as far as the Children’s Reporter.

“We try to steer kids, with input from our education partners and families, away from offending, giving them additional support where they need it.”

The officers also give regular talks to classes and assemblies about issues ranging from littering outside schools to drug use.

Gerry said: “We do cover things like gangs and knife crime, but those sorts of things aren’t such a problem around here.

“We’re on hand to help with anything the pupils need – recently I was helping an Advanced Higher pupils with their Modern Studies class on crime and punishment.

“Apart from anything else it’s all about being a positive role model for the pupils.”

Stuart, who became a campus officer after four years of community policing in Bishopbriggs, said: “We try to build up a relationship within the school community as well as the community around the school.

“We want the youngsters to see the person behind the uniform and feel they can approach us.”

The officers target their resources according to what areas are needing addressed at any given time, as well as seasonal issues such as fireworks and Christmas party safety.

Gerry explained: “At the moment I’m targeting a group of youths who are starting to get involved in fighting.

“I’m speaking about the issues and visiting parents to let them know what their children are getting associated with – some of them probably have no idea what their kids are getting up to.”

One area of particular concern of late is the issue of cyber-bullying on social media sites.

Gerry said: “The job is always evolving and what in our day was something written on a toilet wall is now communicated in such a way that it can quickly spread further than the school gates.”

He added: “We also provide information and advice to adults about issues and are happy to talk to them after school if need be.”

Both campus officers enjoy their job and intend to continue to provide the service for at least another year.

Stuart said: “I joined the police to make a difference and in this job I get the chance to do that every day.

“We can improve people’s lives by getting them at a stage where they could go either way and helping them make the right choice.”

If you would like to contact Stuart or Gerry you can call Kirkintilloch Police on 0141 532 4400.

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