MORE needs to be done to address the ‘shocking’ numbers of children bringing illegal drugs to school.
That’s the call from councillors after it was revealed Hampshire has the highest number of recorded incidents and offences in England and Wales of pupils taking substances into schools.
Statistics from a Freedom of Information Act request showed that for the three complete years from 2011/12 to 2013/14, there were 229 incidents in Hampshire.
The next highest was 144 incidents at schools in Avon and Somerset, and 138 in the West Midlands.
Data from police forces across England and Wales shows class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine are among the illegal substances seized in more than 2,000 incidents and offences over the past four years.
Councillor Neill Young, who is in charge of children and education for Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘It’s shocking to see those figures and disappointing.
‘We need to ensure all children know the effects drug use can have. We will be working with schools to educate them.’
Councillor Peter Edgar, cabinet member for education at Hampshire County Council, said, the county is one of the largest nationally.
He added: ‘Hampshire is one of the larger education authorities in the country, but that doesn’t mean we should be complacent.
‘It’s down to the schools to raise awareness of this and from the schools I have visited, this is taking place.’
The figures revealed cannabis was involved in more incidents and offences than any other – 625 – while cocaine was present in 27 cases.
The figures showed a slight year-on-year decrease in the number of incidents, from a peak of 657 in 2011/12, to 611 and 560 the following years.
There were 407 incidents to the end of 2014.
The vast majority of incidents occurred on school premises – 752 – but colleges and universities in the force areas also reported incidents.
Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes said police do have a role to play in educating.
Mr Hayes said: ‘As a society, schools, parents, police and health professionals need to give a strong message to young people that drugs are dangerous, that they can become addictive and can kill you.’