Hundreds of pupils caught with drugs at school, police figures reveal

Hundreds of school pupils, including one as young as 8, have been caught with drugs on school premises, new figures reveal.

Data from 34 police forces across England and Wales shows that Class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine are among the illegal substances seized in more than 2,000 incidents and offences over the past four years.

Teachers described the figures as a “worry” and “the tip of the iceberg of what young people are encountering on the streets”.

The data, which dates back to 2011, was obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act.

Cannabis, the UK’s most widely used illegal substance, was involved in 625 incidents and offences, more than any other drug. Cocaine was present in 27 cases.

Police officers also confiscated LSD, amphetamines, MDMA and Ecstasy. There were two cases each of heroin possession on school premises in the West Midlands, Surrey and Greater Manchester, plus another incident in Hertfordshire, their police forces revealed.

The highest number of incidents and offences for the three complete years from 2011-12 to 2013-14 was 229, in Hampshire. Some 144 incidents were recorded at schools in Avon and Somerset, and 138 in the West Midlands.

Only four incidents involved children under 11. This included an eight-year-old and a nine-year-old in Staffordshire primary schools who were caught with cannabis, a 10-year-old girl at a Leicestershire primary found to be in possession of cannabis, and a 10-year-old in the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) force area who was found with £5 worth of cannabis.

GMP also reported a 14-year-old being caught in possession of heroin with a street value of £500, while a 16-year-old pupil was found with a quantity of the same drug worth £330. The majority of incidents (241) involved 15- to 16-year-olds, ahead of 11- to 14-year-olds (231 incidents).

The figures show a slight year-on-year decrease in the number of incidents, from a peak of 657 in 2011-12, to 611 and 560 the following years. Some 407 incidents were recorded to the end of 2014.

Parents were also among those in trouble: one 30-year-old was caught bringing 20 tranquillisers on to school premises in Lancashire, and a 19-year-old mother in Leicestershire was caught with cannabis. Drugs were also seized from two school employees in North Yorkshire, police said.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “Any incident of drugs on school premises is worrying as it will often only be the tip of the iceberg of what young people are encountering on the streets.

“Teachers and school leaders are always alert to the potential for young people being involved in drug or alcohol abuse.”

Related stories:

Is the government’s drug policy doing more harm than good? – 6 January 2015

Lord Adonis: Striking teachers are leaving children to “get into drugs” – 11 October 2013

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