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Stop Criminalising Our Children - Scrap Think Family Education Now!

We the undersigned 1.Publish a list of all the schools that have been or are currently using the Think Family Education application. Please provide details of the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the application; whether it has resulted in support being provided to young people and families, or whether, as acknowledged in Council impact assessments, it has led to punishment and criminalisation. 2. No one should be monitored or profiled without their knowledge or explicit consent. All parents and children at schools where the application has been used should be informed about it and parents (and children of relevant age) should be asked whether they want to opt-in to being profiled by the application. 3. Police do not belong in schools. The use of police data, predictive algorithms, and all police involvement in the application should be immediately stopped. 4. Surveillance is not safeguarding. We believe this ill-informed system has no place in our city - it should be abolished.

Schools in Bristol are using a secret database to monitor and profile children, young people and their families. The system is called the ‘Think Family Education application’ and can be accessed by primary and secondary schools, and post-16 or sixth-form colleges.

The Think Family Education application allows schools to monitor schoolchildren and their families’ contact with police, social services, and welfare services like housing and benefits.
The database also uses an automated system, created by Avon & Somerset Police, which thinks it can ‘predict’ whether a child or young person is likely to commit a crime in future, labelling them as ‘at risk’ of criminal activity.

Schools have been using the system secretly, without the consent or knowledge of children, young people or parents. As of September 2023, nearly 150 schools have access to the Think Family Education application, with 107 actively using the system.
What information does the ‘Think Family Education’ system share with schools?

We know that information shared with schools includes criminal justice, financial and welfare details about children and their families, including:
• Children and families’ contact with police and criminal justice authorities
• ‘Anti-social behaviour’ incidents
• Receipt of housing benefits or other financial support, or rent arrears
• Social care history and contact details
Sharing this kind of personal information about schoolchildren and their families, and so much of it, is invasive, unnecessary, and potentially unlawful.

What information-sharing is taking place between police and schools in Bristol?

The Think Family Education application automatically sends police reports from Avon & Somerset Police and Youth Offending Teams to schools with access to the database. The reports are not just about schoolchildren but also family members. The Think Family Education application also includes information on families’ housing, welfare and health issues.

Many schools in Bristol already have extremely close relationships with police, with one school describing daily email conversations with police officers about individual students.

How does the Think Family Education application profile schoolchildren as criminals?

The Think Family Education application provides schools with data on allegations of anti-social behaviour and alleged ‘crime incidents’ about schoolchildren and their families. This can lead to children being labelled as "criminals".
The Think Family Education application also uses algorithms created by Avon & Somerset Police. The algorithms ‘predict’ the risk of criminality and vulnerability of schoolchildren and send these predictions to schools. The algorithms are created using police and criminal justice data and will undoubtedly target students from racialised and deprived backgrounds.

Why should I be concerned?

This kind of information sharing, and ‘digital police in schools’, criminalises children and families from minoritized ethnic communities, and more deprived backgrounds - groups already excessively targeted by police. It increases suspicion from safeguarding officers in schools and the likelihood of children being further targeted by police and the criminal justice system. No one should be labelled as criminals – by an automated system, or anyone else.
Schools believe this system will help ‘safeguarding’. But there is no safety in a system that secretly monitors and profiles children and families. Meaningful safeguarding cannot happen through surveillance. Concerns for welfare and safety must be based on trust.

What can I do to stop the Think Family Education database in Bristol schools?

No children or families should be registered in secret databases, have personal information shared without their knowledge or consent, or be profiled as criminals.

You can contact the school and/or your Bristol City Council representative to ask for further information, ask that you or your child be removed from it, or ask that they stop using this system completely.

If you want to get more involved in the campaign email

More information:

Started by: Sam Lockwood

This ePetition runs from 26/06/2024 to 31/12/2024.

3 people have signed this ePetition.