Fall in reports of offensive weapons in Norfolk schools

PUBLISHED: 09:50 02 January 2013

The number of reports of children and teenagers in Norfolk found with an offensive weapon at school has dropped over the past five years.

Statistics from Norfolk police obtained under the Freedom of Information request show a reduction in the already low number of reported incidents of pupils aged between six and 16 with a weapon on the grounds of primary and secondary schools and academies, from 2007 to October 31 this year.

Some nine high schools and academies are benefiting from the Norfolk police Safer Schools Partnership, where a full-time police officer works with pupils and teachers on a variety of issues related to student safety and preventing anti-social behaviour, including the possession of weapons.

Examples of offensive weapons found included knuckle dusters, knife blades, BB guns, imitation firearms, a metal ball in a sock, wood with nails in scissors and CS spray.

Rob Anthony, senior associate headteacher of the Hewett School, in Norwich, which is involved in the partnership, said: “We think it (the partnership) is superb. The police have seen a significant reduction in problems from young people. It is incredibly cost effective.”

Sgt Tim Horrobin, strategic leader for the Safer Schools Partnership, set up in 2010, said the reported figures to the police were low which was “great news”.

In 2007 there were eight reported crimes of pupils in possession of a weapon and nine arrests, compared to four reported crimes and four arrests last year. Up to October 31 this year there were two reported crimes and two arrests.

The most common weapon found on pupils were knives - there were five reported incidents of knife possession in 2007 compared to two this year.

In 2010, the number of reported incidents of students with knives rose to eight.

Mr Horrobin said weapons are not generally shown off and are normally discovered after teachers are either told by other pupils or heard a rumour.

“We don’t have incidents where children take a knife out and wave it around. Obviously if someone does that it would have an impact. We are trying to prevent that. Knife crime is being taken very seriously at a national level and it is important young people know the risks,” he added.

The youngest offenders were 11 and in 2010 there were four reports of weapons being found on pupils of that age,

The most common age of students found with weapons was 13 - there were three reports last year and one this year.

Other schools involved in the Safer Schools Partnership are City Academy, Norwich, Sewell Park College, Norwich, the Open Academy, Norwich, Great Yarmouth High School, Ormiston Venture Academy, Gorleston, Thetford Academy, King’s Lynn Academy and King Edward VII High School, King’s Lynn.

It is hoped the 51 other high schools and academies in Norfolk will join the partnership by February next year.

Mr Horrobin said: “We have seen how much teachers have reported that schools are calmer. There is better order. We are getting reduced numbers of reported incidents of anti-social behaviour and crime both in and around those schools.”

He added: “There is a very small minority who perceive themselves to be at risk. The main thing is about bravado and showing off to their mates.”

Mr Anthony said: “When the police approached us some time ago about the partnership we were quite sceptical about it. There was hardly any crime at the school.

“But one of the things that made us want to go for it was because quite a lot of children meet police officers for the first time after something bad has happened. It is normally a negative experience. The partnership has been absolutely fantastic.

“We wouldn’t do without PC Nicolas Jessop (the full-time police officer). The majority of what she is dealing with is not crime - it is about preventing crime.”

Graham White, executive member of the National Union of Teachers for Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “Offensive weapons are not a significant issue and schools are dealing with it very well, as are the police. It is not a high profile issue and as with any county you have got pockets of deprivation and high levels of exclusion and misbehaviour.”

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