UK bullying epidemic: Tragic Cheshire schoolgirl suicide forces police to set up commission

The tragic death of a young girl has triggered Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) to act on a bullying ‘epidemic’ across the county.

Earlier this year David Keane (above right) read a coroner’s report into a Cheshire schoolgirl’s suicide and decided to set up an anti-bullying commission.

Members of the commission met for the first time on Tuesday evening at Stockton Heath Police Station, Warrington to hatch plans to tackle the problem.

On reading the report, PCC Keane said: “Having a daughter myself, I sat there on a Sunday evening in tears in my living room, and I remember getting in touch with my team and saying, ‘Guys, we’ve got to do something about this’.

“I looked at the policing response, and it said policing wasn’t at fault, but it started off a question in my mind – although policing wasn’t at fault, could we have done more?

“Then that led me on to think could the school have done more, could the parents, if better advised, have done more, could the friends have done more.”

During the summer, the force began listening to examples of bullying at events throughout Cheshire to gauge the extent and nature of the issue.

Mr Keane described some of the stories he heard as “harrowing.”

He added: “As we looked deeper into it, we could see within workplaces, dare I say even within organisations like police forces, it seemed clear that it’s an epidemic right throughout life.

“We need to look into when does bullying become a criminal offence where the police should be involved, and we want to give out advice on how to deal with it.”

The first stage of the commission focuses on under 25s, while the second and third will explore bullying in the workplace and the targeting of older people.

It aims to develop a new strategy to help advise schools, workplaces and police forces on how to call out and prevent incidents as well as provide support for victims.

Among the commission members is an academic from the University of Central Lancashire and a member of the Cheshire Youth Commission, who regularly meet with the police.

Alan Yates, who was head teacher at Great Sankey High School for 14 years, is the chair of the commission and believes it’s desperately needed.

He said: “With the police being involved, it’s a high status, so it’s important David is raising it in his position to give it some leadership.

“This is saying ‘We’ve got to do something about it and the time is now’.”

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