iNews reports that from the nation’s most senior police officer to ministers, those in power insist they are alive to the rise in knife crime and are taking steps – from a £500,000 Home Office fund for community projects to stationing police in hospitals – to tackle it.
But during our four-month investigation into knife crime in schools, the i has spoken to dozens of individuals at the front line of a problem which is affecting communities from rural Wales to well-heeled Surrey as well as Britain’s largest cities.
These are the measures that those – from campaign groups to victims – who deal with knife crime in our schools and its effects on a daily basis have told us are badly needed.
: Anonymous reporting systems
Dr Vincent Uzomah was grievously injured when a 14-year-old boy apparently motivated by racial hatred stabbed him in a Bradford school in 2015. The attacker had told his friends what he intended to do but none felt able pass on a warning to teachers. Dr Uzomah and others believe that a mechanism is needed for students to feel that they can provide potentially life-saving information without being penalised and, if necessary, with anonymity. As Dr Uzomah put it: “We have so many good kids in schools; they would report if they weren’t afraid to.”
Every secondary school offers its pupils guidance on citizenship and personal development. Teaching unions and headteachers say this time should be used to deliver the message that, rather than offering some form of protection, carrying a knife increases the risk of injury, death or imprisonment. But senior staff warn that schools often struggle to find room in the curriculum and the resources to drive home this lesson. One knife crime reduction charity, Word 4 Weapons, said that half of the schools where it offered to provide lessons responded that they had no budget to fund the initiative.
The i’s investigation has established that there is no single, comprehensive source for tracking and monitoring the scale of knife crime in our schools. Organisations have told us of their shock at our findings. Many local authorities told us they do not collect relevant figures, arguing that police are responsible for tracking criminal offences and it is the job of individual schools to report them. The i had to use freedom of information rules to collect information from individual police forces. Campaigners have said they would like to see a central database established so policy makers – from beat bobbies to the Home Secretary – know the true scale of the problem.
Read more measures that are required Knife crime: The measures needed to make schools safe.
What steps has your school taken to make itself safe? Metal detectors, police or more lessons in the curriculum which would be the best deterrent? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin (around 7am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link
We now have a Facebook page - pls click to like!