A primary school has erected a 10ft fence in order to prevent pupils witnessing “threatening gestures” and “extensive problems with crime”.
Twickenham Primary School in Kingstanding, Birmingham, took the decision after children were allegedly subjected to anti-social behaviour and intimidation.
A council planning report said a total of 39 incidents had been reported to West Midlands Police by the school since January 2016 – nine of which related to unauthorised access of the school grounds.
The construction began in August last year “as a last resort” in response to the “severity and regularity of crime” – which the school has said has reduced significantly since it was erected.
The report by Birmingham City Council’s planning committee said: “The school wishes to erect the fence in order to provide greater security, prevent trespass on the site and prevent individuals from intimidating pupils from the gardens on the other side.
“It is evident that Twickenham Primary School has suffered relatively extensive problems with crime and anti-social behaviour in recent years.
“The school also wishes to limit visual interaction between the residential properties and the site, as a result of incidents where individuals have tried to intimidate pupils with inappropriate and threatening gestures.”
It is also suggested West Midlands Police were fully in support of the proposed plans as a fence would help to combat significant levels of crime which have taken place within the school grounds.
The report added: “The police’s subsequent investigations of the incidents have suggested that offenders are moving from one rear garden to another in order to access the school, exploiting any ‘weak spots’ they come across in the boundary.”
Some nearby residents have complained that the new fence has an “industrial and gloomy appearance and it has given their gardens a “prison-like feel”.
Locals have also argued that the small gap between the school fence and an adjacent fence will gradually fill with rubbish – attracting rats and vermin.
Terri Hall, chair of Governors for the school, said in a statement: “Twickenham Primary School is fully committed not only to the highest standards of educational excellence but, more importantly, to the safety of all our children.
“Children and staff come to school to learn and be free from any form of verbal or physical intimidation.
“Safeguarding is at the centre of everything we do and the governing board are fully committed to ensuring that children have the right to learn and play in a safe environment. Our planning application was supported by the police and planning officers.”
The statement added: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank our parents who have sent many messages of support to the school.”