Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.30.08PRIMARY school children are to extend the long arm of the law in a pioneering initiative to promote harmony in the community.

Heathfield Primary School has become the first in Darlington to join the Mini Police, a scheme run by Durham Constabulary.

Around 60 Year 5 pupils will take it in termly turn to wear special Mini Police uniforms with pride as they work with the force to improve community safety.

Mini Police boys and girls could find themselves on the frontline when greeting royalty, helping police community safety officers tackle local issues and promote seasonal campaigns.

They will also be able to visit police headquarters in Durham, the police helicopter, Bikewise and Dogwise events, tackle community issues including parking near school, speeding motorists and dark nights safety and meet and discuss issues with Durham’s Chief Constable Mike Barton.

Organised by assistant head teacher Sue Wilson, the project was launched officially at a special assembly in which the latest 20 volunteers showed off their uniforms.

The ceremony was attended by Mini Police co-ordinator Craig Johnson, Darlington Chief Superintendent Graham Hall, PCSO Becky Heseltine and former pupil and Darlington Borough Council leader Bill Dixon and mayor and mayoress Tom and Gill Nutt.

Mrs Wilson said: “The perception can be that the police are only there to lock people up when their role is much broader and surrounds making the community in which we live safe. If the first contact with children is a positive one then that this will last into adulthood.”

Chf Supt Hall said: “We are totally committed to this programme which is the start of something very exciting.”

PC Johnson added: “The voice of a child has an amazing impact on the local community and offers an honest and insightful perception of what we are striving to achieve for everyone.

“It also encourages young people’s aspirations and offers a taste of the rewards of working for the police as a future career.”

The initiative was launched to coincide with National Anti-bullying Week and marked the culmination of work exploring the issue with youth worker Matthew Jones.

He said: “We have tackled the myths and reality around bullying; why the bullies act the way they do, how the victims feel and the importance of friendships. Pupils certainly appreciate that school is a good place to be and a happy place to be.”

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