Pupils as young as four caught with knives at school as nationwide seizures rise by a third
Nationwide seizures of knives within schools have risen by a third.
Figures compiled by the Johnston Press Investigations Unit show that the number of offences reported to police forces has tripled from 331 to 1,081 between 2012-13 and 2016-17.
Over the same period the number of people aged 18 and under reported to be in possession of a knife on school premises has increased nearly fivefold from 169 to 835.
Injuries caused by knives have also more than doubled from 72 during 2012-13 to 176 in 2016-17.
In the North East, however, figures for areas such as Sunderland, South Shields and Hartlepoolare thankfully far lower and at odds with the nationwide picture.
Addressing the overall statistics, Patrick Green, trust manager at the anti-knife crime charity The Ben Kinsella Trust, founded a decade ago after 16-year-old Ben was stabbed to death by three youths in Islington, London, today said: “These figures are frightening and what is of greater concern is they don’t show the full extent of the problem.
“Until we really know the full picture, of knife crime in schools, it is difficult to properly tackle the underlying issues.
“This investigation shows knife crime is a real and growing concern among young people across the country.
“I am glad I don’t go to school anymore.”
Pupils have faced arrest for offences including grievous bodily harm, malicious wounding, racially aggravated assault, robbery and threats to kill.
Recent cases identified by the investigation include a four-year-old with a knife or blade in Northamptonshire, a pupil aged five or six threatening a teacher with a pair of scissors in London and a school staff member in Wales suffering post traumatic stress after being threatened with a knife.
Weapons found since 2012 include prison-style improvised “shanks” made by embedding razor blades into felt-tip and highlighter pens.
Seized items also include carving knives, jagged-edged hunting knives, machetes, axes, scalpels, smoke grenades, stun guns and air rifles.
The Metropolitan Police said every London borough now has a bespoke knife crime action plan and 76 schools have taken up an offer of a knife wand to search pupils.
Leading law officer Robert Buckland, the Government’s Solicitor General, said: “These are frightening statistics.
“The message still has to get through to young people that carrying a knife for your own protection is probably the most dangerous thing you can do.”
One caveat to the FOI figures is that not every force distinguishes whether an incident on school grounds involves a pupil or an outsider aged 18 and under.