Samurai swords and axes among thousands of weapons seized from schools

New figures suggest there has been an increase in the number of weapons found on school premises

Tes Reporter

Could the apprenticeship levy face the axe?

Thousands of weapons have been seized from schools across the country – with samurai swords, axes and air guns among those confiscated.

The majority of cases involved children, including some as young as five, according to figures released to the Press Association by police forces in England and Wales.

At least one in five incidents involved knives, while the data suggests an overall increase in the number of weapons found on school premises.

Partial figures suggest numbers could increase

Police chiefs said there had been a "worrying" increase in young people carrying knives. They said police work with schools to help educate youngsters on why carrying any illegal weapon is wrong.

Press Association analysis of data from 32 police forces that provided figures showed 2,579 weapons were found between the 2015-16 financial year and this year.

The number is likely to be much higher, when considering those forces that did not provide data or offered only incomplete figures under Freedom of Information laws.

In 2016-17 alone, 1,369 were found – a rise of almost 20 per cent on the previous year, despite this not covering a full 12-month period.

According to the 24 forces that gave details on the type of weapon, just under 500 of those seized (nearly 20 per cent) were knives – including samurai swords.

Other weapons confiscated included at least 26 guns, including BB guns, air rifles and an imitation firearm. More unusual contraband included a police baton, a rolling pin, a can of beer and a 15in metal rod.

At least 47 children found with weapons were below 10 years old, the age at which someone can be prosecuted. This included three five-year-olds, one of which was caught with a knife.

'Carrying a weapon illegally is never acceptable'

A handful of forces offered historical data that showed weapons including a guillotine, a Taser gun - and a ukulele - were among the items seized. 

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Knife Crime, Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock, said: "Schools should be free of weapons and all children should be able to learn without fear or violence.

"Carrying a weapon of any kind in schools is not an issue for a school to deal with alone; police and partners will always be willing to work with them and take appropriate action."

He added: "Police involvement in schools, whether it be officers delivering talks and interactive sessions or based in schools themselves as part of the Safer Schools Partnership, helps us to educate young people and explain why carrying a weapon illegally is never acceptable."

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Police announced officers would be working with schools to highlight the potential consequences of carrying a knife.

It followed the case of Ann Maguire, who was stabbed to death at Corpus Christi Catholic College in April 2014 by 15-year-old pupil Will Cornick.

'Protect and educate'

The following year, teacher Vincent Uzomah was seriously injured when he was stabbed at Dixons Kings Academy in Bradford by a racist pupil.

The new figures come after Tes revealed last week that the number of hate crime and hate incidents increased significantly around the time of Brexit and Donald Trump's election 

On today's data, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "Schools work closely with the police to protect and educate their pupils, and in some cases police officers are stationed in schools.

"Where appropriate, schools conduct searches and use metal detectors, and they implement robust disciplinary procedures against anyone found in possession of a weapon.

"Young people are taught about the dangers of offensive weapons both in lessons and in talks delivered by invited speakers."

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