Pupils younger than 10 caught with knives at Sunderland schools
Primary school pupils younger than 10 have been caught in possession of knives on school premises in Sunderland.
The revelation has prompted a warning from the father of a young dad stabbed to death outside his home in the city.
John Johnson, whose son, Kevin Johnson, 22, was murdered in 2007 by three teenagers, said today: “This disappoints me but does not surprise me. Even one case is too many.
“What I would say to people tempted to carry knives is don’t.
“You could end someone’s life within seconds or even your own if the tables are turned and it is turned against you.”
The Sunderland figures form part of a national investigation by Echo parent company Johnston Press’s investigations unit.
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to United Kingdom police forces suggest that the number of incidents where young people aged 18 and under have been found in possession of knives on school premises have increased by more than a third since 2012.
While the Northumbria Police statistics suggest the problem has doubled locally, the figures involved are far smaller than those facing larger forces and show a rise from seven in 2012-13 to 16 in 2016-17.
Sunderland accounted for three of the cases last year.
One involved a child aged 10-12 while the other two centred on pupils aged 13-15. The two cases of children under 10 carrying knives at city schools took place during 2015-16.
Two similar incidents dealt with in Sunderland during the same period involved pupils aged 13-15.
Taxi driver Mr Johnson, 67, whose son was killed in Partick Road, Pennywell, said: “I have campaigned all around the country for tougher sentences and met different people who have suffered from knife crime.
“They may not all have had relatives die like my son. But they have all been affected in same way.
“So I’m not surprised that the age people are carrying them is getting younger as it so easy to get your hands on them.
“I can only ask them to consider the hurt they could cause both to themselves, others and the families who have to live with what happens.”
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Ged Noble, of Northumbria Police, insisted the force were determined to further reduce the low amount of knife crime at schools and added: “The number of reports we receive about young people involved in knife crime in schools, is thankfully very low in Northumbria.
“This is reflective of our proactive approach to tackling such issues and educating young people about the potential devastating consequences that carrying a knife could have, not only for any victims and their families but also to their own lives.
“Our neighbourhood teams work with schools to engage with pupils, and thousands of young people visit SafetyWorks, a dedicated interactive centre supported by Northumbria Police, where groups learn about a range of safety issues, including those linked with knife crime.
“Despite all of this excellent work being carried out, we are far from complacent. We will build on this activity as we continue to try to reduce the number of incidents involving young people and knives.”“I would like to assure the public that Northumbria Police takes all cases of knife crime extremely seriously and we are working hard to protect all communities."
In the Durham Police area, one child aged 10 was found in possession of a knife on school premises in the county during 2016-17.
There were six similar incidents reported to the force in the same year involving one pupil aged 12, three aged 14, one aged 15 and one 16.
The overall figure was three higher than for 2015-16 and six more than in 2012-13.
A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said: “Thankfully, crimes involving knives or other bladed weapons remain low in County Durham and Darlington, as do instances of children being in possession of a knife at school.
“Officers do visit schools if we receive requests from them to provide education and awareness around knives and other weapons.
“We can also run tailored antisocial behaviour carousels which can cover weapons if the school requests it.”