Cops, principals discuss steps to beef up security in Mumbai schools

Jan 15, 2015, 07:28 IST | Shreya Bhandary

The police had sent a circular to schools and colleges, asking them to strengthen security in their premises, following the Peshawar school terror attack that killed 145, including 132 kids

It’s been almost a month since the deadly terror attack on a Peshawar school that killed 145 people, including 132 children. Following this, the education department as well as police had sent a circular asking schools and colleges to beef up security measures in their premises.

After the attack in the Peshawar school, the police had sent a circular asking schools and colleges to beef up their security measures. File pic for representation
After the attack in the Peshawar school, the police had sent a circular asking schools and colleges to beef up their security measures. File pic for representation

In the past couple of weeks, a series of meetings have been held between the local police and school principals, discussing various ways through which the security measures can be implemented in schools. “The police is regularly contacting all schools to keep a tab on the progress. We are also clearing their doubts, as and when needed.

Recently, many school principals in south Mumbai were brought together by the local police to discuss the necessary security changes every school needs to make, and this has been quite helpful,” said Fr Francis Swamy, coordinator of Jesuit Schools of Bombay.

City police started with conducting a basic recce of schools and after a couple of weeks, in the last week of December, a circular similar to one sent by the Ministry of Home Affairs (see box) was sent to schools and colleges of the city. The circular also states different evacuation methods and action that can be taken under various circumstances.

Some raise objections
Many aided schools, however, have raised an objection to these security measures. “Aided schools barely have money to hire teachers or build toilets, and the management is investing money for the same. How are we supposed to raise money to hire more security guards?

Also, the circular clearly states that we can’t charge extra money from parents to implement these security measures. So where are we supposed to get the money from?” asked Fr Jude Fernandes, principal of Stanislaus High School, Bandra, one such school.

He added that many aided schools have contacted the police to discuss this issue and they are hoping that the education department will take this matter seriously as well.

The circular
Following the Peshawar school attack, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a circular stating the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed in schools in times of crisis. It was first uploaded on the CBSE website.

The circular not only states the procedure schools should follow in case of terror attacks or any other form of violence inside or outside the school, but also lists other measures that could be implemented in order to enhance the security system within education institutes.

The aim of this SOP is to lay down guidelines and procedures for preventing terror attacks in schools and for starters, local police had been asked to identify prominent and high profile schools in their jurisdiction.

The guidelines are applicable to all schools. Each school has been asked to make a list of important phone numbers such as those of the police control room, local police and hospitals, which should be displayed at prominent spots in the school premises.

Preventive measures, as per the circular
>> Each school should have a boundary wall and more than two entry and exit points. All these gates should be manned by guards 24 hours
>> A telephone connection should be provided at the main gate so that guards can contact police in case of an emergency 
>> A centralised alarm system should be put in place through which the entire school can be addressed collectively
>> School gates should be closed immediately after the arrival or departure of children
>> All staff members should be briefed about any possible threats and there should be a list of duties for specified staff who will be responsible for controlling children in times of crisis
>> Regular mock drills and security checks should be conducted
>> Schools should provide a copy of their recent security plan to the local police station in advance

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