Schools across the UK have been targeted by criminals during the Covid-19 pandemic, as more than a third (35%) have experienced crime, according to new research from specialist insurer Ecclesiastical.
The survey of 500 teachers found schools had suffered anti-social behaviour (16%), trespassing (13%), graffiti (11%), criminal damage (8%) and cyber-crime (7%) since the start of the pandemic.
A fifth of teachers (22%) felt their school was more vulnerable to crime during the Covid-19 pandemic, citing fewer staff on site during the national lockdowns and entrances being left open more frequently to increase air ventilation when schools were closed.
Nearly half (47%) of the schools surveyed had introduced new measures to protect the school and deter criminals since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than a quarter (28%) of schools introduced CCTV, one in five (19%) fitted alarms, and 15% built more security fencing.
Independent schools surveyed reported much higher levels of crime in comparison to other types of schools. Three in five (58%) experienced some form of crime over the last 12 months.
The survey revealed more than a quarter (26%) of independent schools suffered anti-social behaviour since the pandemic. Graffiti (17%) and trespassing (15%) on school property were also cited as the top crimes experienced by independent schools.
Despite that three quarters (75%) of independent schools have introduced new security measures since the start of the pandemic, over a third of independent school teachers (37%) believe their school is more vulnerable to crime since Covid-19.
Faith Kitchen, Education Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “Schools have been far more vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and other forms of crime over the last year. School properties were often left largely unoccupied or even empty when schools were closed to the majority of pupils, tempting opportunists. For schools, crime experienced within school property can be a stressful event for teachers, as it is they who are left to deal with the implications of teaching without laptops or equipment, while leadership has to tackle the expenses incurred.
“There are a number of measures schools can take to better secure school property and assets, which would ideally be a combination of both physical and electronic protection. Fencing around the perimeter can often offer a good first line of defence against unwanted visitors, while CCTV can act as a visual deterrent for those not wanting to be caught on camera.”