A pupil in a Yorkshire town brought a knife to school for months to “protect himself from other students”, an investigation by The Yorkshire Post has revealed.
Rotherham Council revealed details about the incident involving a pupil in the town at an unnamed secondary school under Freedom of Information laws. It said the matter was reported to police during the 2016/17 school year after it came to light that the student had been bringing a knife in “with the intention of using it to protect himself from other students”.
Other reports to police in the town during the same school year included “two separate incidents that involved threatening other students on the way home from school with a knife and a firearm”. Another student in Rotherham was arrested after bringing two knives into school with the intention of stabbing another pupil and refusing to hand the weapons over to school staff.
Other incidents included a pupil seen playing with a knife in class and another who passed a knife to a different student. In the first term of this current school year, police were called out to a secondary school pupil threatening another child with a knife.
In 2014/15, police were called to two knife-related incidents at Rotherham primary schools; one involving a child approaching two other pupils with a knife and the other related to a child bringing a pen knife with two blades into school.
More than 40 knives have been seized from pupils in Rotherham schools since September 2014.
But the true scale of the problem across Yorkshire remains hidden due to few local education authorities collecting information on the number of such incidents. Of the 105 LEAs who responded to FoI requests, 97 said they didn’t collect information on the number of incidents involving police being called out to their schools, with Rotherham being the only one to provide details.
Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council, said: “We have a thorough recording system in our borough’s secondary schools to log any incidents involving weapons and dangerous objects. Although these figures are relatively small, where problems or patterns appear, schools then work with our Early Help staff to run awareness raising sessions for young people on the consequences of carrying knives.”
A Government minister who sits on an inter-ministerial group on knife crime said he was “surprised” that data on offences from schools and local authorities was not being collected. Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC said: “We need to have a clear picture as to where hotspots might be and where there’s really good practices.”
But Bradford Council said it does have an accurate picture of knife crime in schools as it records the reasons for pupil exclusions; information it says shows such incidents are “very rare”, with five permanent exclusions in the last two academic years.
Last summer, a North Yorkshire County Council report said six per cent of the region’s children claimed they carried a “weapon or something else for protection” when they go out, a figure rising to 10 per cent in Harrogate. A spokeswoman said: “North Yorkshire is a very safe place to grow up and to learn, much safer than the national average. Anecdotal evidence from young people we consult is they are increasingly concerned about a threat to their safety because of media reports. The reality is that knife crime is still very rare.”