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Four-year-old among 1,000 children caught with knives in schools | Politics News

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A four-year-old was among more than 1,000 children caught carrying knives in schools last year, police figures show.

A total of 1,144 knife possession offences in schools, where the suspect was a child, were recorded in England, Scotland and Wales over 12 months.

The figures, obtained from police forces through Freedom of Information requests by 5 News, also revealed weapons seized by officers included machetes, hunting knives and a samurai sword.

Dyfed-Powys Police were called to one school in Wales by teachers concerned that a four-year-old had a knife.

In Manchester, an 11-year-old, who had replaced the nib of a highlighter pen with a blade, told another pupil: “Listen to me or else I’ll stab you.”

Among 36 forces in England and Wales that provided comparable data, the number of offences more than doubled over the past five years – increasing from 372 in 2014 to 968 last year.

David Simmons set up the Changing Lives charity in Harlow, Essex, to offer opportunities to young people at risk of getting into gangs or gang crime behaviour.

He acted after being threatened by a six-year-old with a knife when he was working at a school in north London.

Mr Simmons said: “He was threatening other staff members and saying that he was going to stab them so I’ve gone over trying to calm this child down.

“He’s then said he’s going to stab me and kill me.

“At that age you just wouldn’t have thought that a six-year-old should be doing that. Why were they doing that?”

Highlighter pen. File pic
Image:
The nib of a highlighter pen was replaced by a blade. File pic

Steven George, from the National Association of Headteachers, said referring a child to the police isn’t always the best option, adding: “What you’re trying to do is find a solution for that child.

“Their family, circumstances, the neighbourhood they live in, the people they hang around with are all going to be factors and those aren’t solved with a phone call to the police.

“We know that schools are being asked to do more than ever before on a wide range of issues that extend beyond the school gates.

“If the figures continue to grow, then that is a problem that schools definitely cannot tackle alone.”

A government spokesman said: “No young person should feel the need to bring a knife to school, and our #knifefree campaign challenges the myth that carrying a knife makes you safer.

“We have strengthened teachers’ powers so they can take action if they suspect a pupil has brought a prohibited item, including knives, into schools.

“These powers include searching pupils or their possessions if they suspect they have a weapon.

“Our serious violence strategy focuses on steering young people away from knife crime and we are also investing over £220m in early intervention projects.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Scotland has adopted a public health approach to violent crime, tackling the underlying causes of violence and not just the symptoms.”

And a Welsh government spokesman said: “There is a duty on local authorities and schools to ensure that schools are a safe environment for all.

“If at any point the environment within a school becomes unsafe, the school should ensure that the relevant authorities are informed so that appropriate support can be made available.”

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