Swanmore College among Hampshire schools to get sniffer dog visits in fight against county lines drug dealing

IN THE fight against drug misuse and illegal substances, a school has arranged for trained dogs to visit along with police officers.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 3:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 6:15 pm

Swanmore College is one of a group of Hampshire schools that will get unannounced visits from trained dogs with handlers after increasing concern in the county about drug use and criminals in county lines organisations exploiting young people.

A spokeswoman for the school said: ‘We feel the time has come to conduct regular drugs searches. This is a proactive step to ensure that the menace of drugs trading, exploitation and dependency is not brought onto our school site and this, in turn, supports the wider community.’

The drug search scheme is in partnership with five other secondary schools; The Hamble School, Thornden School, Toynbee School, Wildern School and Wyvern College.

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Swanmore College. Picture: Google

In a letter to parents, headteacher Kyle Jonathan said: ‘We review our safeguarding practices regularly, and we feel the time has come, as part of our education and awareness package about drugs for young people, to conduct regular drugs searches.

‘I would like to reassure you that if the animal takes an interest in any young person or adult on site, the matter will be dealt with discreetly, out of the sight and hearing of others. Senior staff will be in attendance at all times.

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‘An interest shown by a trained animal does not necessarily mean that there is a problem, but it will need investigating. Police presence means that follow-up can take place rapidly.

‘This is part of our education and drugs prevention policy and is intended to be an element in the learning process, not threatening or anxiety-inducing. We understand that the sight of trained dogs and police in a school can be enough to deter people outside from thinking that students are easy prey.’

Last year drug detection dogs were sent in to 12 schools across Fareham and Gosport, including Brune Park School, Fareham Academy, Henry Cort Community College and St Vincent Sixth Form College.

Gwennan Harrison Jones, headteacher of Cams Hill School, previously told The News that there is a ‘prolific prevalence of drugs’ within the community, leading to a ‘normalising of drug taking.’

The schools contracted the animals from Gosport-based business the Dog Unit, which provides drug and bomb detection dogs to festivals, events, and venues across the country.