How to avoid a charge of theft

5th March 2004 at 00:00
Schools sometimes find it necessary to confiscate pupils' property for disciplinary reasons. Apart from cigarettes and sweets, there are many other unacceptable items.

Teachers must not keep them or throw them away. Destroying or consuming the offending articles would amount to criminal damage or theft. Nor can property be kept indefinitely as this, too, would be stealing.

Teachers are obliged to take reasonable care of such property. If it is damaged they andor the school could be held responsible.

Therefore, schools should ensure that confiscated property can be locked away securely. A record should be taken of the owner, the person who confiscated it, when it was confiscated, and where it was stored.

Normally property should be returned by the end of the school day. It is acceptable for parents to be told that property must be collected by a certain time, or the local authority has the right to sell it. If property is illegal (drugs , weapons) the head must decide whether to hand it to the police.

If the owner cannot be found the property will vest in the LEA one month from coming into the LEA's possession. The LEA has the power to dispose of uncollected property, charge parents for its return or to get owners to collect it.

Independent schools have a contractual relationship with parents, and should make it clear in prospectuses what the procedures are for dealing with confiscated property. They, too, can charge for safe-keeping and return, but this would have to be made clear in the information provided for parents.

Chris Lowe

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a TES/ TESS subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
 
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today