Schools should not become ‘prisons’ or ‘Fort Knox’ style security zones with pupil searches as standard, education chiefs have urged - despite an investigation revealing strong support for body scanners to check for knives and weapons.
More than two thirds of adults quizzed as part of the Google survey said they would welcome knife detectors at school entrances.
But Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), believes the focus needs to be on tackling the root causes of knife possession. “We do not want to turn our schools into prisons with knife scanners and pupil searches,” she said in response to the survey results.
“Schools want to be part of solving the problem of knife crime but, to do so, they need the resources and time in the curriculum and support from other agencies to be able to pick up issues and educate young people about the dangers of carrying knives.”
The call follows the release of figures that show knife crime is on the rise in West Yorkshire’s schools and a child is caught carrying a blade at least once a week on average.
West Yorkshire Police, which provided figures for the last two calendar years, recorded a 48 per cent increase in the number of children caught with knives in school, going up from 90 in 2016 to 134 in 2017.
In 2016 there were eight crimes in involving knives in the Calderdale district on school grounds, rising to 10 the following year.
Dr Bousted, the former head of Edge Hill College, in Lancashire, said that most schools were “safe places for both students and staff”.
But she said schools were struggling to offer “extra support” to those at risk of falling into crime because of cuts to youth services across the UK.
Halifax MP Holly Lynch said: “We know about this worrying trend in London schools but to see the increase in schools in Yorkshire is something we must address.
“I would urge all schools to work with West Yorkshire Police, to organise for them to deliver their presentation which warns children about the dangers of carrying a knife.
“The message needs to be clear that problems will never be resolved by carrying a knife but the consequences for anyone caught carrying one will be serious.”
Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker said: “Tackling knife crime and the increase in pupils taking weapons into schools is a key priority of the Government and is based upon ‘four key strands’ – working with the police, working on the legislative framework, working with retailers on responsible sales; and looking at early intervention and prevention.
“The Department of Education issues statutory guidance to schools on how to keep pupils safe and an ongoing consultation was launched in December 2017 seeking views on proposed changes to this guidance.
“Following this consultation, the Government proposes to update and change the current statutory guidance."