EXCLUSIVE: Knife scanners could be put into some Northamptonshire schools says top police officer

Detective superintendent Dennis Murray
Detective superintendent Dennis Murray
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Knife scanners could be appropriate in some schools known to have a "knife problem" a top Northamptonshire police officer has said - even though teaching unions fear the move could turn the education system into "prisons".

Detective superintendent Dennis Murray made the comments in response to a Johnston Press survey this week, which has revealed strong support for arming teachers with knife detection wands.

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More than 1,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 were asked whether they would support the introduction of mandatory body scanners in schools - to which 67 per cent agreed.

Det Supt Murray, an officer with Northamptonshire Police for 32 years, said the handheld metal detectors seen in airports and courts across the country would only be appropriate in certain schools.

He said: "I think it comes down to proportionality.

"If a school felt it had a particular problem, they would need to take proactive steps to stop that."

Last year London Mayor, Sadiq Khan offered all schools in the capital chance to take up a free knife searching "wand". Only 15 per cent took up the scheme.

And the blanket introduction of knife scanners across the UK has been broadly dismissed by teaching unions.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), believes the focus needs to be on tackling the root causes of knife possession.

“We do not want to turn our schools into prisons with knife scanners and pupil searches,” she said in response to the survey results.

“Schools want to be part of solving the problem of knife crime but, to do so, they need the resources and time in the curriculum and support from other agencies to be able to pick up issues and educate young people about the dangers of carrying knives.”

But the union bosses' view was at odds with the respondents of our survey.

Eighty-two per cent of those that took part also believed schools should have the right to search students without their consent if they are suspected of carrying weapons.

One in ten parents even revealed their child had seen a knife being carried at school..

What do you think? Join the debate on Twitter at #SafeSchools.