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The law on ... Confiscating property

Basic issues

Confiscation of property is not unlawful if it is necessary. In a school, this would mean something that was dangerous, drug-related or obscene. It is unlawful to destroy property belonging to a pupil unless it must be destroyed to protect interests or safety.

Who is responsible?

Headteachers are responsible for ensuring that policies and procedures regarding confiscation are followed by staff. Heads also have the power to initiate methods for detection of drugs. This can be in the form of urine testing or sniffer dogs.

What to watch out for

Items that are confiscated must be kept safe to avoid allegations of theft, particularly if the item is expensive. Illicit material such as pornographic material or drugs can be handed over to the police. Reports to the police are not obligatory but often advisable.

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