Hampshire headteachers reject metal detectors for schools

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Headteachers across Hampshire don’t support metal detectors in schools to find pupils carrying knives as it could cause overreaction, increase anxiety and promote fear in secondary students.

Last month, every secondary school in London was being offered knife wand metal detectors in the wake of the fatal stabbings of teenagers Elianne Andam and Taye Faik.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced on October 13th that the schools would keep the knife wands or can be used by Safer Schools Officers as part of a planned operation.

The measures come after the tragic deaths of 15-year-old Elianne Andam, who was knifed to death on her way to school in Croydon on September 27th, and Taye Faik, 16, who was fatally stabbed in Edmonton just a few days later on October 1st.

As part of the operation, secondary schools in London can now ask the Metropolitan Police to provide an officer to deliver knife crime prevention talks to students on the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife.

They can also request a Safer Schools Officer to provide visible reassurance to the school community and build positive relationships between young people and the police.

During Hampshire County Council’s full meeting  last week, Labour councillor Alex Crawford asked Councillor Steve Forster, executive member for education, if the administration would support similar measures in Hampshire.

Councillor Crawford asked: “Will you support every secondary school and college in Hampshire in asking Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary for knife wands to screen for weapons on their premises?”

In response, Councillor Forster said the education and inclusion team contacted headteachers about the topic, and they were not supporting the initiative since Hampshire “is not London” and it could cause “overreaction”, “increase students anxiety”, and promote the feeling of fear.

He said: “In Hampshire, the education and inclusion team works really closely with our headteachers and school management to support them in their work with young people and the management and promotion of good behaviour.

“Headteachers that we have raised this topic with would not support the action of supplying knife screening wands. Their views are that this would be an overreaction given the very small number of incidents involving such crime in Hampshire schools and imply a situation that is of greater concern than the incidents suggest.

“We are not London. Furthermore, it may increase students’ anxiety, causing unwarranted concerns and actually promoting fear.

“As with all such issues, education support and early intervention are the best methods for reducing such incidents. We do, of course, remain vigilant and will continue to work with school leaders and the constabulary.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones, in line with the county council, said during Operation Sceptre in November – which aims to tackle knife crime – that education and early intervention are vital and stop young people from getting involved in crime in the first place.

She said: “Knife crimes, and particularly youth knife crimes, have been growing at a worrying rate across the UK over the last decade, and crimes linked to knives have a devastating impact, destroying families and communities in a split second.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure knife crime is tackled head-on, and we need to reduce the threat by aiming our concerted efforts at educating children and young people.

“Parents need to ensure they understand the risks, how to spot the signs and keep their children safe. Equally, children and young people need to understand the consequences of carrying a knife.”

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