Schools ‘generally safe’ despite national findings

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EDUCATION authorities say they take any report of knife crime in schools seriously.

But while Portsmouth City Council provided data on weapons-related exclusions, Hampshire County Council said it did not hold data.

It means the true extent of the problem may not be known at the local authority level.

Councillor Peter Edgar, education cabinet member at the county council, said: ‘Despite what appears to be indicated by the figures gathered from the nation’s police forces Hampshire’s 524 schools are generally very safe places for the 175,000 pupils they educate, and their staff.

‘Schools operate autonomously and it is for the head teachers to determine the penalty to be imposed for any misbehaviour. When a school excludes a pupil, it is required to inform its local authority and the Department for Education provides schools with a list of generic categories for the exclusion. Carrying or use of a knife threateningly is not specified as a category.

‘However, among the categories is “verbal abuse/threatening behaviour against a pupil or member of staff”.’

‘Clearly, this may or may not relate to the possession or use of a knife.’

A Portsmouth City Council spokesperson added: ‘We take all crime relating to schools very seriously, and offer advice and guidance if needed. Schools decide what security measures they have on their premises.’

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘This government has taken decisive action to put teachers back in charge of discipline in the classroom by strengthening their powers to take action if they suspect a pupil has brought prohibited items, including knives, into school.

‘It is of paramount importance that schools provide a safe environment for their pupils, and any incident that does occur is completely unacceptable.

‘Knife crime has devastating consequences.’