Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
Samurai sword among dangerous weapons children are taking to school
16 October 2019, 08:55
Children as young as four have been caught taking dangerous weapons into school, new figures have revealed.
Across England and Wales, at least 1,383 school children were caught carrying items including knives, knuckledusters, a hammer and a taser between April 2018 and August 2019.
The actual number of incidents is thought to be much higher, as a number of police forces, including the Metropolitan Police, did not respond to requests for information.
One 14-year-old was given a caution for bringing a sword into school in Devon and Cornwall, while in Greater Manchester a samurai sword was recovered by police.
Other students in the same area were found to be carrying a BB gun and a corkscrew.
Some students even fashioned weapons out of playground toys - with one child in Cambridgeshire being found with a fidget spinner which had a spike attached to it.
Another child was charged for bringing a pair of gardening shears onto school property.
Leicestershire police said a 15-year-old was handed a youth caution for bringing nunchucks to school, while Norfolk constabulary said other pupils were found with a baton, a wooden stake and a pencil sharpener blade.
Of the children who were reported to have brought weapons to school, 49 were below the age of 10 - meaning they were under the age of criminal responsibility.
The youngest case was recorded in Wales, were an unidentified four-year-old was caught carrying an unnamed weapon.
Lucy Martindale, a youth worker from south London who lost 11 family and friends to murder, gun and knife crime during a seven-year period, said: "The situation is getting worse, even just this year.
"Some young people I speak to say before they leave the house - where most people check they have picked up their keys and wallet or purse - they check they have their knives with them.
"There needs to be more collaborative action - not just government, but the community as a whole, parents, police, coming together and trying to come up with an answer."
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said cuts to policing and local support services were fuelling problems with weapons in society.
He said: "These figures are grim but unsurprising and reflect a growing problem over the prevalence of weapons in wider society.
"The scourge of weapons has grown worse in recent years, and while there are a number of complex factors involved, a key issue has been cuts in policing and local support services for vulnerable families.
"Gangs have filled this vacuum and often pressure and groom young people into dealing drugs and carrying weapons."