The schools’ league table which no-one wants to top

From left, Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones, and Isle of Wight Council leader Jonathan Bacon sign the formal application for a Solent Combined Authority in 2016

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It’s the chart-topping position no local authority wants. But unfortunately it’s the one occupied by Hampshire.

Most people will be disturbed by today’s figures which place it top of the drugs-in-schools league table.

To make matters worse, on the face of it, the county is streets ahead of its nearest rival.

The figures, obtained from a Freedom of Information request to the nation’s police forces, show in the three full years from 2011/12 to 2013/14 there were 229 recorded incidents and offences at Hampshire schools – instances of pupils taking drugs into school.

In second place on 144 incidents came Avon and Somerset and third, with 138, was the West Midlands.

But this is where we must be sceptical about the data.

Of course the Hampshire figure includes the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton and conurbations of Basingstoke and Aldershot.

But Somerset and Avon’s statistics would include Bristol and the West Midlands, Birmingham.

If there really is a drug problem of this magnitude in Hampshire’s schools, fair enough and schools must act to stop it. But can it really be bigger than those of Birmingham’s and Bristol’s?

Perhaps what we are looking at here are more rigorous checks on pupils in Hampshire than those used in schools farther west and north.

Whatever, the rising numbers generally are worrying because it is only the tip of the iceberg of what young people are encountering on the streets.

Unfortunately, many of the programmes and specialist support on which schools could once rely to help them in supporting and educating young people in the perils of substance abuse have been cut by the government.