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Scots pupils taking arsenal of weapons into class

Scottish pupils have had weapons confiscated. Picture (posed by model): Robert Perry

Scottish pupils have had weapons confiscated. Picture (posed by model): Robert Perry

  • by DEREK LAMBIE
 

A TERRIFYING arsenal of weapons is regularly being seized from school pupils in Scotland prompting fears over violence in playgrounds.

Knives, firearms, chisels and even a hacksaw have been confiscated from youngsters – many still in primary school – by teachers over the past three years.

In one incident, a pupil arrived in class with scissors purposely taped open, while metal bars, a pool cue, a lit aerosol can and a sharpened spoon have also all been used as makeshift weapons. New figures obtained by Scotland on Sunday reveal hundreds of youngsters have been expelled since 2010 for carrying offensive items or using them to attack and threaten pupils and staff.

The revelations come just weeks after it emerged record numbers of school children are being treated for drug and alcohol problems in Scottish hospitals.

Politicians and campaigners yesterday expressed their concern at the extent of the weapons found in the playground and demanded urgent government intervention. Anti-knife campaigner John Muir, whose son Damien, 34, was stabbed to death in Greenock in 2007, said he was “horrified and upset” that knives were being taken to school by pupils.

He added: “This is an issue that not only needs some serious questions answered; it is one that requires some immediate action to be taken.”

Figures obtained from local authorities under Freedom of Information show at least 778 pupils have been caught with weapons since 2010 – more than 200 of them in primary schools.

However the true figure is likely to be far higher since five councils – Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, Falkirk, Perth and Kinross – said they do not hold relevant data.

Blades –including kitchen knives, dinner knives, pen knives and Stanley knives – were the most common items seized, with police called on a number of occasions.

In Fife, where 26 youngsters were caught carrying weapons, knives were seized from three primary school pupils, while a fourth took a hacksaw to class. Blades were also confiscated from children aged 12 or under in Aberdeen, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Moray, Renfrewshire, West Lothian and the Western Isles.

In South Ayrshire, one primary pupil was caught with a piece of wood with drawing pins pushed through it, while Highland Council officials said a lit aerosol can and chisel were among the weapons seized in their area.

Ball bearing guns were found on a number of secondary pupils across the country and teachers took a firearm from one primary-aged child in Renfrewshire.

Anti-gun campaigners have made demands for the low-powered air weapons to be banned, but it is unlikely Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will include them in forthcoming firearm legislation.

The public appetite to tighten air gun controls has gathered momentum since the death of toddler Andrew Morton, who was shot by a drug addict in Glasgow in 2005.

Chrissie Hall, co-ordinator for Gun Control Network, said: “These guns are excellent replicas of real weapons and they will clearly instil fear and alarm at school. While they are cheap and can easily be bought with pocket money they are not toys and can cause serious injury. They should be banned, not taken into class.”

North Lanarkshire Council has expelled the highest number of children since 2010, with 140 youngsters found with weapons, while 111 pupils were expelled in neighbouring South Lanarkshire.

John Lamont MSP, the Scottish Conservative chief whip, said: “You could excuse the odd incident of a young child mistakenly throwing something into their schoolbag of a morning.

“But the sheer scale of these incidents points to a far more sinister problem. What is of extreme concern is the idea of pupils fashioning their own weapons from everyday implements. That signals a pre-meditated intent and one the auth-orities have to take very seriously.”

The Scottish Government said it was “totally unacceptable” to possess a weapon in school.

A spokesman added: “We are working with schools, stakeholders and local authorities – through anti-violence campaigns, such as No Knives, Better Lives, and curriculum programmes – to educate young people and ensure the number of such incidents are reduced and, where possible, eliminated.”

 

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