There is now a permanent police presence at a Thornbury school plagued by anti-social behaviour.

Thornbury beat manager PC Natalie Jones has been stationed at the Castle School after last year’s criminal damage and arson attacks.

Neighbourhood Team Inspector Clive Summerill revealed the news last week at a meeting of Thornbury Town Council’s finance and policy committee and admitted Avon and Somerset Police had underestimated the problems faced by the town.

He has held meetings with Will Roberts, chief executive officer of CSET, the multi-academy trust that runs the school.

Three teenagers were arrested after an arson attack on an outdoor building at the school’s sixth form in December 2018. Later that month a gazebo at the main site was set on fire before eight teenagers were arrested following a burglary at the school.

Inspector Summerill said that although not everyone arrested attended the school, ‘clearly some of the same students’ were involved.

Although having a police officer stationed at a school has not been done in the area before, it does happen in Bristol.

Inspector Summerill said the decision had been taken to try and avoid permanent exclusions which can lead to a life of crime as a result of having nothing to do during the day.

He also revealed his sympathy for teacher’s ‘not being able to lay a finger on students’ and said PC Jones would be part of the ‘sanctions process’ at the school.

Inspector Summerill admitted they had ‘got it wrong a little bit’ in relation to the problems Thornbury faced.

“We didn’t respond quite as quickly as we could have,” he said.

Although patrols had been increased around the school these are ‘not sustainable in the long term’ due to a lack of resources. Avon and Somerset Police have lost more than 850 officers in the last 10 years.

During this time crimes with ‘positive outcomes’ have fallen by more than half to 13.9 per cent, something Inspector Summerill described as ‘really really poor.”

“We are not as good at catching criminals as we used to be,” he added.