Livid parents have hit out against a school decision to bring police in to search pupils amid a crack-down on smoking at lunchtime.
At least five pupils at a Chesterfield school had illegal contraband confiscated and many more were subject to police searches on site amid growing concerns.
Derbyshire police officers attended Whittington Green School on Friday, January 22 after teachers asked for spot check of bags and pockets.
But parents have told of their fury as the school ‘victimised’ their kids and ‘humiliated’ them without warning, as parents weren’t given prior notice.
And one parent even suggested pulling her child out of the school completely.
The mum, who is anonymous to protect the identify of her child, said: “I know for sure my son will not be attending the school again until I feel my child is getting treated fairly and appropriately.
“These children were bullied into an illegal search on school premises with no evidence to suggest that they had any thing and again it’s still not illegal or the children would of been arrested and charged. I get they’re underage but my annoyance is that my son felt he was given no choice in the matter and wasn’t even given the option to contact me for support (he didn’t have any cigs) but was informed if they didn’t comply school would enforce punishment for failing to listen to a teacher. Where was the appropriate adult for the kids??”
Derbyshire police visit was not out of the ordinary and school bosses told that smoking issues had persisted, so the drastic action to involve the police was warrented.
But another angry mum told of her ‘sheer disgust’ to learn her son was searched without her prior warning.
She said in an email to the Derbyshire Times: “My son went into school as normal this morning, got there and got confronted by police and staff, then taken into a room and searched by police.” “This is unacceptable. Not because they thought my son was carrying anything illegal, eg. drugs or sharp objects, but no – the reason my son was searched and made to feel intimidated, humiliated and as though he had done something really wrong, is because he’s got caught smoking in the past. “I think the staff and police have acted irresponsibly. “The way the school has gone about this is totally disgusting. “I feel my son has been victimised for no reason.”
Others described the move as a waste of police time.
Sean Mcnally said on our Facebook page: “What will be next? Probably a visit by HMRC with the sniffer dogs? Mind you that would have been more interesting and entertaining for the kids.”
But the issue of sending police into school may have provoked some controversy, with many others supporting the decision.
Linzi Bamford said: “It’s not a waste of time. Some of the older kids are encouraging the younger ones to smoke.
“I have three boys and if the school had a feeling any of them were smoking then I’d be asking them to search them. Sometimes a bit of tough love goes a long way.”
Derbyshire police confirmed the school requested a visit and seized cigarettes from pupils. Officers said: “We can confirm that we were invited into Whittington Green School this morning to address concerns of the headteacher. “Five children had cigarettes seized from them and were given advice. All five admitted they either smoked or had been in the company of smokers. “It is illegal for under 16s to be in possession of tobacco and pupils are not allowed to bring cigarettes into school. “Officers regularly go into schools to speak to pupils and work closely with staff to tackle problems within their premises.” Whittington Green School Headteacher Tracey Burnside said: “We have an ongoing problem with smoking at the school among the same small group of pupils which detentions were not addressing. “We have a good working relationship with our local police who often host assemblies and talk about problems like bullying so it was not unusual for them to come in and help us deal with this issue. “Five pupils had cigarettes and handed them over to the police officers voluntarily and no pupil was singled out. They were given a talk about the damage cigarettes cause and reminded that it is illegal for under 16s to possess tobacco - messages that are supported in our wider curriculum.” But a mother of one of the pupils told the Derbyshire Times in an email of her ‘sheer disgust’ after the ‘irresponsible’ search. The Department for Education’s ‘Searching, Screening and Confiscation’ guidelines state that headteachers have statutory powers to search without consent for items such as knives and drugs, which includes tobacco.