WQ92313 (e) Tabled on 21/03/2024

What assessment has the Minister made of impact on safeguarding in schools, that the Welsh Government's £2 million funding cut from the School Beat Cymru scheme, and therefore police visits to schools has had?

Answered by Minister for Mental Health and Early Years | Answered on 10/04/2024

As part of the 2024/25 budget process Ministers had to take very difficult decisions about the Welsh Government’s commitments and priorities, with a focus on protecting front-line services and saving lives. That informed the challenging decision to withdraw Welsh Government funding for the Wales Police Schools Programme in 2024-25.

The impact of this decision on the current programme, and areas such as safeguarding, drug awareness and social behaviour problems is difficult to predict. This is because the programme is mainly measured in terms of outputs of lessons as opposed to outcomes.

You will be aware that the budget from the UK Government was received later than expected, so the Welsh Government had to issue our draft budget as late as possible in order to give due consideration to the difficult decisions that had to be made. Ministers were working to a tight timescale and making decisions on the 2024/25 budget during December. However, that meant we didn’t have the luxury of rounded, open engagement that we have typically undertaken when time has allowed. So we informed trusted partners, including the Police, of our decision to withdraw funding as soon as possible prior to the budget publication.

Officials attended a meeting with Education Unions in February to discuss their concerns and we are continuing to work with the Police on the implications of the withdrawal of the Welsh Government’s match funding for the programme.

The Integrated Impact Assessment for this decision currently focuses on the Welsh Government’s withdrawal of match funding. However, as you will be aware, the programme has been a partnership approach with the Police so the document will need to be updated and revised once we are aware of what the Police are planning with their match funding for the programme and what role they see the Police playing in schools in the future. Officials are currently going through the process to enable the publication of the relevant parts of the Integrated Impact Assessment, and this will be done once they are aware of the Police’s position.