True extent schools targeted by criminals revealed

Headteacher David Worthington, centre, with pupils from nursery at Worsley Mesnes Primary School, Wigan, they are upset after the milk delivery was stolen from the school in the early hours of the morning.
Headteacher David Worthington, centre, with pupils from nursery at Worsley Mesnes Primary School, Wigan, they are upset after the milk delivery was stolen from the school in the early hours of the morning.

Brazen thieves helped themselves to a set of goalposts from a Wigan primary school, shocking new figures have revealed.

The incident is one of hundreds of occasions the borough’s seats of learning were targeted in arson, burglary and criminal damage incidents.

Cash, computer equipment and bikes were among the most pilfered items including several occasions when entire classrooms’ worth of laptops were stolen.

Crimes committed on school grounds have been brought into sharp focus in recent weeks as RL Hughes Primary School in Ashton was set ablaze in December.

The figures, obtained by the Observer through Freedom of Information laws, reveal details of 230 crimes between October 2014 and August of last year.

Criminal damage incidents accounted for almost 100 of these followed by incidents of theft (80), burglary or attempted burglary (43) with four incidents of arson.

Greater Manchester Police has previously said the force has analysts who work daily with neighbourhood officers and the local authority to “identify any series of crimes or repeat victims and locations.”

And residents living close to school grounds have been urged to report any suspicious activity.

On one occasion, the figures reveal, thieves stole a set of goalposts from Nicol Mere Primary School in Ashton.

Other incidents recorded by GMP include damage to a chicken coop at Marsh Green Primary School and a burglary during which a leaf-blower was stolen from Leigh St Peters. More than 30 laptops were stolen from Sacred Heart Catholic School in Atherton and St Mary’s RC High School also had 10 computers pilfered.

The figures include the numerous incidents where low-life thieves pinched crates of milk intended for youngsters at Worsley Mesnes Community School in 2015.

Hooded offenders were captured on CCTV taking the milk during early morning raids at the school.

Headteacher David Worthington told the Observer at the time: “This is not a victimless crime, the milk is for our nursery children, they’re three or four years old.

“It’s a lot of milk for one person or family to use so perhaps local residents may have noticed somebody trying to sell it on.”

A garden shed was set alight at RL Hughes on Friday, December 9 with flames spreading to the main school building and causing significant damage to a classroom used by year five pupils.

Headteacher Monica Middlehurst said: “The fire brigade have told me we were just 10 minutes from losing the entire junior building due to the fire taking hold in the roof space.

“This could have destroyed eight classrooms and affected the education of 250 children which would have been extremely disruptive not to mention the cost.”

To report any suspicious activity around Wigan borough schools please contact Wigan Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.