Almost 50 pupils found carrying knives in Derbyshire schools

These knives were handed in to police during an amnesty campaign.
These knives were handed in to police during an amnesty campaign.

Almost 50 pupils have been found carrying knives at schools in Derbyshire over the last five years, we can reveal.

A Freedom of Information request to Derbyshire Constabulary found that 48 youngsters under the age of 18 were caught in possession of a knife on school premises between 2012 and 2017.

But the figures show that reported cases in schools have decreased considerably – with just one incident in 2017.

According to the statistics, two pupils were found to be in possession of a knife on school premises in the county in 2012, 12 in 2013, nine in 2014, 13 in 2015, 11 in 2016 and one in 2017.

As part of the FOI request, the Johnston Press Investigations Team also asked Derbyshire Constabulary for information on the number of incidents in our schools where a weapon was seized, which totalled 62 cases.

These figures also show a drop in such incidents - with just one in 2017 - compared to 16 in 2016, 13 in 2015, 2014 and 2013 and six in 2012.

Inspector Richard Keene, who works in community safety for Derbyshire police, said: “Derbyshire police have run Operation Zao an anti-knife crime initiative for approximately two years and this links closely to Operation Sceptre the national focus on the dangers of carrying knives.

“As well as pro-active enforcement we have conducted extensive engagement with schools and young people in the county to highlight the dangers and consequences of knives, whether as an offender or victim.

“We have conducted numerous youth summits where positive role models give accounts of their experience with knife crime, criminality and gangs.

“The speakers come from all walks of life, particularly impactive are the talks from those who have been involved with weapons and gangs but reformed their lives and are now giving back to young people and stressing the dangers from first hand experiences.

“The reduction in the prevalence of knives being carried by young people is great to see and although success in this area is hard to quantify I am confident the police actions and engagement with young people has contributed to this reduction and that Derbyshire is bucking the national trend which shows an increase in knife related offences.

“Operation Zao is an ongoing and continuous initiative to tackle knife crime and keep our communities, particularly young people safe from harm and the hugely reduced numbers of those carrying knives in schools in 2017 is testament to the operation’s effectiveness and impact.”

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said its schools have a zero tolerance towards offensive weapons and ‘very much welcome’ these figures.

The spokesman said: “We require our schools to have strict policies in place around offensive weapons and we also encourage them to work with the police to educate students about the potential consequences of carrying or using knives or other weapons.

“While these figures are promising, we continue to work with our schools to deter violence, threatening behaviour and possession or use of weapons and, in partnership with the police, will always take the appropriate action to deal with anyone who commits such acts.”

More than 550 students attended a recent police event to learn about the consequences of carrying a knife.

The talk, at Derby College’s Broomfield Hall Campus in Ilkeston, included an ex-gang member who admitted regularly carrying knives for ‘self-protection’ in his past, an emergency doctor who explained just how quickly a blow from a knife can prove fatal and the brother of a victim who was fatally wounded.

Part of the event was delivered by a group of students who – having originally attended a similar event – have since set about helping spread the words at subsequent events.

Andrew Brundish, 17, said: “We’re knife-crime ambassadors. We help organise events and spread the message about the dangers. And Lauren Cheetham, 18, said: “We’re trying to get the point across to young people that carrying knives is dangerous and there are so many consequences.

“It’s affecting people our age. It could be our friends and family or people close to them being killed. That’s what hits home with people.”

Nationally, more than 2,400 pupils have been caught with a knife or other weapon in school since 2012, according to data obtained from nearly two-thirds of UK police forces.

Officers have had reports of more than 3,500 knife-related crimes on UK school grounds, including more than 660 knife-related assaults.

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 and this Government is determined to tackle this and do all it can to break the deadly cycle and protect our children, families and communities.”

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