Teachers given right to search pupils

CHILDREN in Suffolk may be searched by their teachers once they go back to school under new law which comes into force today.Once the new term starts teachers and security staff will be able to search pupils for knives and other offensive weapons without consent.

CHILDREN in Suffolk may be searched by their teachers once they go back to school under new law which comes into force today.

Once the new term starts teachers and security staff will be able to search pupils for knives and other offensive weapons without consent.

It follows powers allowing schools to use screening devices such as metal detecting arches and wands in a bid to protect students from knife crime.

Teachers' leaders in Suffolk welcomed the new powers, but stressed they should be used with extreme care.

Martin Goold, division secretary of Suffolk's National Union of Teachers, said: “Knife crime is a very, very small problem but of course it is a huge problem when there is one knife anywhere in a Suffolk school.

“We have had some very unpleasant incidents. We need to try to be ready to avert future tragedies.

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“The powers are welcome but we are saying to our members 'you need to be extremely careful how they are exercised; never jeopardise your own safety'.”

Guidance about the new powers says staff should call police if they are concerned about safety risks, and schools can use professionally trained security staff to conduct screening and searching as well as teachers.

Two members of staff must be present at every search, and searches must by conducted by a staff member who is the same sex as the pupil and, where possible, they should take place out of public view. Schools can refuse entry to pupils who refuse to be screened.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “These guidelines that have come out from government today give extra powers to schools.

“It is up to the individual governing bodies of school if they want to invoke the powers.

“If any individual school said they wanted to take on these powers then we would support them.”

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