SCHOOLS taking part in Cumbria’s mini police programme will be now be recognisable as banners have been placed outside their grounds.

The launch of the banners took place today, at Victoria Junior School, Workington, where the police and crime commissioner, Peter McCall, and officers involved in the programme, attended a presentation to mark the occasion.

Participant schools and mini police officers have taken part in a range of activities since signing up to the scheme last year, including litter picks, road safety patrols, fundraising and educational talks on county line drug dealing.

PCSO Alison Renney, who has been working with Victoria Junior School, said pupils had embraced their roles as mini police officers.

"They have been really engaging," she said. "It's been really good working with the kids and changing their perception of police - we're not to be frightened of. When I'm out on the patch, they will come over and say hello now.

"It's been a good initiative and there are more schools getting on board."

There are 20 mini police officers at Victoria Junior School and some have even been inspired to become police officers when they grow up.

Pauline Robertson, executive head at the school, said: "They've learned what it's like to work in the community alongside the police force.

"It's improved their level of responsibility and raised their self esteem. Their confidence has grown."

The scheme is supported by schools, officers and PCSOs. Cumbria currently has 26 member schools with new intake planned for this year and a growing waiting list.

Students take part in different modules of learning each term with last year’s modules covering topics of water safety and county line drug dealing.

The programme not only educates students but teaches life-skills of citizenship, leadership, community and positive friendships.

Citizen in police lead for the mini police programme, sergeant, Tamara Tatton said: “The work undertaken in 2018 by our mini police is outstanding; teachers and students have shown so much enthusiasm and initiative, and they are already positively impacting their local communities.

“The programme has been extremely well received and we have seen students grow in their teams and as individuals. Children as young as eight have been standing up in front of their peers in full school assemblies presenting the information they have learnt.

“The banners are going to be a great way to easily identify a mini police school and acknowledge the hard work and commitment the school and students have undertaken as part of the programme."

Police and crime commissioner, Peter McCall said: “The mini police is a great initiative and it is really important to invest in our young people from an early age. Mini police not only inspires children to consider a career in policing in later life, but also encourages great relationships between the police and the next generation.

"The response to the scheme has been tremendously positive and I am delighted that it is so successful. I am keen to see even more pupils benefit from the scheme and the banners will help to raise awareness.

“This is a great way to increase engagement, not just with the children themselves, but also with their parents and carers, which will in turn indirectly allows for greater engagement with the wider community.”