London Tonight, 15/02/1995

BURGER BRIBERY

By Donna Dawber

Primary school children are being bribed with burgers to grass on school vandals.

The incentive to beef up the fight against crime is being offered to youngsters at Monkwick School in Colchester, Essex.

The young tell tales will be joining forces with top burger chain McDonald's, whose own fictional crimebuster, Ronald McDonald, has been foiling the criminal plans of Ham-burglar for years.

School governors approved the scheme in an attempt to cut vandalism and stealing from the school and McDonald's are giving them the burgers for nothing.

Talking about the initiative, which is backed by the police, Monkwick head teacher Roger Digings said: "The idea of the scheme is to encourage the children to be proud of what they have got and give them a sense of belonging to the school.

It's a kind of neighbourhood watch and we're not encouraging the kids to snitch on their friends. Most vandalism occurs after school hours, so if the children see someone on the school grounds when they shouldn't be we want to hear from them.

When it comes to class mates we don't want to cause friction by children snitching on their pals.

'Grass on school vandals
and you'll get a free Big Mac'
- pay off for tell-tale kids

However, if a child discovers that a friend has committed a serious crime we would expect them to tell us.

You could say we are trying to give them a real understanding about what is morally right or wrong.

When the school falls prey to burglars or vandals it is the schoolkids who suffer.

For example, a couple of years ago we installed 700 worth of equipment for special needs children in a classroom on a Friday afternoon, one the Sunday the equipment was stolen - the kids hadn't even had a chance to use the new apparatus."

Lynn Knight, the chairman of Monkwick's board of governors, has made assurances that informants would remain anonymous.

She said: "If we are able to find out who has done some damage, or stolen from the school, the person providing the information will be treated to a meal."