DRUG detection dogs are to make unannounced searches in schools across Gosport and Fareham in order to tackle the ‘prolific’ availability of drugs.
Headteachers say the dogs will visit mainly as a means to engage and educate pupils on the dangers of substance misuse, as well as performing searches within school grounds.
Gwennan Harrison Jones, headteacher of Cams Hill School, said there is ‘prolific prevalence of drugs’ within the community, leading to a ‘normalising of drug taking.’
She said: ‘Drugs are more available than ever before.
‘We should be telling our young people that this is not acceptable.
‘This isn’t any one school saying they have a drug problem, as all of us working together shows.’
A total of 12 schools will contract the animals from Gosport-based business the Dog Unit, which provides drug and bomb detection dogs to festivals, events, and venues across the country.
The schools are planning for the visits to happen twice a year.
Mrs Harrison-Jones said she hoped the work would be a ‘visual’ and ‘high profile approach’ to offering information about the dangers of drugs.
She added: ‘The investment is testament to how we want to provide the safest and happiest experience for all our pupils.’
The work follows a similar scheme involving 13 schools across the New Forest last year.
The launch of the scheme follows a standing-room only community meeting in Fareham to discuss the issue of drug related crime in the town centre, with council leader Sean Woodward acknowledging the area’s ‘heroin issue.’
Speaking after the meeting, he said: ‘We will do everything and anything we can to drive out the drug takers, the drug sellers, and anyone committing crime in our borough.’
The schools taking part in the scheme are Bay House School and Sixth Form, Brookfield School, Brune Park School, Cams Hill School, Crofton School, Fareham Academy, Henry Cort Community College, Portchester Community School, The Key Education Centre, Fareham College, St Vincent Sixth Form College, and Lord Wilson Academy.
A letter outlining the new initiative has been sent to all parents and carers of children enrolled in the participating schools.
Fareham’s Community Safety Partnership and Hampshire Police are both aware of and supporting the initiative.