Weapons, fires, drugs and thefts – police called to Sunderland schools 1,127 times

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POLICE have been called to schools in Sunderland 1,127 times in the last 18 months.

Officers attended primary and secondary schools after reports of a catalogue of crimes including assaults, children carrying weapons, fires, drugs and thefts.

Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, Sunderland's new chief Police officer.

Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, Sunderland's new chief Police officer.

While police stressed today there is no crime problem in city schools, teachers say any such reports need to be taken seriously and acted on.

Since January 2012, police were called to primary schools on 537 occasions and secondary schools 590 times.

This works out at an average of 62 times a month – or twice a day.

On two occasions, police seized weapons being carried by pupils in schools.

A BB gun and two kitchen knives were confiscated, although officers say one of these weapons was found outside school grounds and simply handed in.

Councillor Robert Oliver, who is also a teacher in the North East, said: “Among the reasons for which the police have been called out to Sunderland schools, there are some worrying incidents such as assault and possession of weapons.

“It is unacceptable that any teacher or pupil has to go to a school where this is happening, though most of the city’s schools are relatively trouble free.

“This is why teachers need strong unions and firm headteachers to face down pupil indiscipline, report it and firmly punish offenders.

“Ultimately, pupil behaviour is a product of parenting, with schools only being able to go so far in making up for a lack of good discipline at home.”

Other incidents which triggered a police response involved adults rather than children.

Issues about parents parking outside school buildings featured heavily, along with out-of-term problems including insecure premises and criminal damage.

During this summer break, thieves stole lead flashing, causing more than £2,500 worth of damage to the roof of Springwell Village Primary School.

Builders are currently on site trying to carry out full repairs in time for the school reopening in September. Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, of Northumbria Police, said: “It’s important to note these figures span over a year and include all calls to the 124 primary and secondary schools across the city.

“Many of these incidents may be outside of school hours or during school holidays when staff and pupils aren’t on site.

“Some may have been reported from the school but aren’t happening there, such as a domestic violence incident.

“They also refer to adults and young people who may not necessarily have any connection with the school.

“One of the weapons seized was found outside the school and handed in. There’s no suggestion it had any connection with it. The other two were confiscated from pupils in separate incidents.

“However, it’s important to highlight that we don’t have a problem with children carrying weapons at school, and parents need to be aware of this.

“Similarly, where officers have attended schools in relation to drugs, this has often been in an advisory capacity in support of the school.

“Our officers have a great working relationship with schools across the city.

“In fact, several of our schools give our officers a base within the premises, allowing them the opportunity to have positive interaction with young people and their teachers on a day-to-day basis.”