FROM diverting pupils away from flute bands to dispensing career advice and building bonds with parents, Glasgow's new campus cops are breaking down barriers.

Police Scotland has increased the number of police officers in city schools by around 50 per cent in a bid to reduce exclusions and raise attainment.

And, although head teachers reported some concerns from parents, the five new School Based Officers are aiming to make a lasting difference to pupils.

All five take up posts in South West Glasgow schools after head teachers identified their schools could benefit from a police presence.

Bellahouston Academy had a campus officer for three years so head teacher Ian Anderson is well aware of the benefits they bring.

He said: "In a sense it's difficult to say why having a campus officer is so successful because it affects us across the board.

"The last thing he was doing was functioning as a police officer. Rather, he was establishing relationships with pupils and parents.

"He reinforced school rules but also rules more generally for outside school - he never acted as a first responder."

Lisa Pierotti, head teacher of St Paul's High School, added: "We had been sharing a campus officer and saw the benefits we were getting from that.

"We talked about what we could do to raise attainment in our school and realised having an officer full time would make a difference.

"The South West division knew we were keen and so when this opportunity came up we jumped at it."

The five new officers include: Leigh McPartland, who is based in St Paul's High School; Rachael Gallagher, now in Rosshall Academy; Craig Murie, who joins Govan High School; Daniel Johnston, based in Hillpark Secondary; and Harry Hutchison, who is part of Bellahouston Academy.

Glasgow City Council said there are currently around 10 campus officers across the city, meaning the five new posts are a substantial increase.

The roles will be paid for by Police Scotland and Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) cash, Scottish Government money given directly to schools to help close the attainment gap.

Chief Inspector Alan Bowater, area commander for South West Glasgow said it had taken 10 months to get the scheme in place.

He added: "Over 29 years I have noticed that police and young people don't get on as well as they should, there is a barrier there that is not being broken down.

"I interviewed all of the officers involved personally. I was looking for additional skills they could bring into play and people who had the interests of the young people at heart."

Geri Collins, head teacher of Hillpark Secondary School, said: "I had come from Easterhouse where we had a campus officer and I really felt it, not having one at Hillpark.

"He used to take a group of disengaged boys out fishing on a Sunday. He did bike maintenance with pupils.

"It's really important to have the right person in school and we feel we do now at Hillpark."

The five officers, who come from varied backgrounds, took up their posts earlier this month and are already working to make connections with young people.

PC Murie was a PE teacher before joining the force so wanted to combine his education and police skills.

PC Johnston worked with Skills Development Scotland with young people and his wife is a social worker so working in a school was an interesting option for him.

The officer, originally from Northern Ireland, plans to use music to engage pupils.

He said: "I'm going to be starting a couple of bands. I played in a pipe band back home as a drummer.

"Some of the kids are in flute bands, which have the more negative connotations, so I want to catch them and teach them a different style of drumming and start a band with them."

PC Hutchison has been a campus officer for three years and believes it is vital to build a positive relationship between young people and the police.

He said: "The challenge is getting them to trust you. Now they come to me. I can't even get out of my car in the morning. But I go to them too, even just for a kick about.

"If any of them have offended over the weekend they will actually come and tell you and ask you what to do.

"It does make you proud when they achieve."

PC McPartland, who has been working as a campus officer since April last year, added: "But it also makes you so disappointed when they do something wrong.

"I have two kids of my own but this is like having another 800.

"They come and say things like, 'If you did this, what would happen to you?' and you have to hope it's hypothetical question and then give them the best advice you can."

Alison Mitchell, Rosshall Academy head teacher, believes the continuity of having one officer to deal with, should any problems arise for pupils, will make a difference in her school.

She said: "If there are any issues that need dealt with then the officer is there from start to finish - and I have seen perceptions of the police change.

"Our PTA had some mixed views. The main hesitation is that it might damage the perception of the school - 'There must be anti-social behaviour because you have police there.'

"But now they see the role is much more pastoral."

Head teacher of Govan High, Nancy Belford, added: "Young people were quite shocked to see a police officer in school at first.

"Their natural reaction is, 'Who's in trouble? What's happened?' but they are now really gravitating towards him and building positive relationships."