Child, 4, among 1,383 pupils found carrying weapons into classIvy Madziva
More than 1,000 children were found carrying weapons – although the true figure is likely to be much higher.
A four-year-old and a teenager armed with a sword are among 1,383 schoolchildren caught carrying weapons into schools in just over a year.
As well as knives; knuckledusters, a hammer and a taser are among the weapons found on schoolchildren in England and Wales between April 2018 and August 2019.
The true figure is likely much higher as a number of forces did not respond to requests for information, including England’s biggest force, the Metropolitan Police.
School leaders said the figures, obtained by the Press Association using a Freedom of Information request, were “grim but unsurprising”.
- A four-year-old found carrying an unnamed weapon by Dyfed Powys Police
- Devon and Cornwall Police cautioning a 14-year-old for bringing a sword to school
- A samurai sword found by Greater Manchester Police
- In Bedfordshire a schoolchild carrying a machete and another carrying firearm
- In Cambridgeshire, a fidget spinner, a type of popular spinning toy, fitted with a spike
- Nunchucks found on a 15-year-old in Leicestershire
- Thames Valley police discovering a pupil carrying a bayonet
Some 1,072 instances of children caught carrying weapons into school were declared by 29 police forces in England and Wales over the last financial year, up from 831 in the previous 12 months.
Another 311 incidents were recorded between April and August 2019 and 49 children were said to be below the age of 10 – the age of criminal responsibility.
Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for children and young people, said that these cases remain rare but acknowledged that forces are seeing a small number of offences on school premises involving weapons.
“Serious violence is a growing problem amongst young people and we continue to work closely with partners to address this,” she said.
Youth worker Lucy Martindale, who lost 11 family and friends to murder, gun and knife crime during a seven-year period, said: “The situation is getting worse, even just this year.
“Some young people I speak to say before they leave the house – where most people check they have picked up their keys and wallet or purse – they check they have their knives with them.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the figures did not surprise him and blamed cuts in policing and local services.
He said: “These figures are grim but unsurprising and reflect a growing problem over the prevalence of weapons in wider society.”
He added: “The scourge of weapons has grown worse in recent years, and while there are a number of complex factors involved, a key issue has been cuts in policing and local support services for vulnerable families.
“Schools are doing their best to tackle these problems, but they cannot possibly solve this issue on their own. They need more back-up in the form of well-resourced community support services and more investment in policing.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “Schools should be safe and disciplined environments for both pupils and teachers.
“We recently announced a £10 million investment to establish behaviour hubs so that schools with a track record of effectively managing pupils’ behaviour can share what works with schools that need it.
“We have strengthened teachers’ powers so they can take action if they suspect a pupil has brought a prohibited item, including knives, into schools.”
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Child, 4, among 1,383 pupils found carrying weapons into class.