AN officer from Gloucestershire Police will be a familiar face in schools in the Forest of Dean Area, including Newent and Dymock, because of a new 'stay safe' initiative.

The Schoolbeat programme will focus on delivering lessons to children in school years six through to nine with officers providing around 500 hours of their time per school year.

There are five dedicated officers covering around 60 schools each with a sixth officer also being recruited.

A police spokesman said: "Helping young people to develop into responsible adults is one of the six priorities of the Police and Crime Plan and to help meet this, Schoolbeat officers will be facilitating educational inputs across the county whilst building a number of relationships.

"Schoolbeat officers will initially spend the first school term building relationships with their allocated schools, local Neighbourhood Policing team and colleagues in the Community Harm Reduction team as well as members of partner agencies in education, health and social services."

Each class will take part in three workshops a year which focus on a range of topics depending on the school year they are in.

The spokesman added: "The topics include internet safety, sexting, drugs/alcohol, exploitation, domestic abuse, grooming, online relationships, hate crime, ASB, bullying and county lines drug dealing.

"The programme structure ensures that no child in the county is missed, with officers working alongside public schools, academies and grammar schools as well as alternative provision and special needs schools to ensure that every child in Gloucestershire has a comprehensive understanding of a number of topics. This ensures that, in this crucial period of adolescence, all school children in the county will know a police officer who they are able to build a trusting relationship with.

The spokesman added: "Schoolbeat is a very comprehensive programme. It provides a good opportunity to keep our young people informed on issues around online relationships, keeping safe on the internet, bullying and a range of topics that can affect youngsters approaching their teenage years."

The Schoolbeat officer appointed for the Forest of Dean area is PC Greg Steer.