Council fires an assurance after surge in school weapons is revealed

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TEN pupils were found in possession of offensive weapons in the region’s schools in the last full academic year, it has been revealed.

And that was more than double the grim haul confiscated during the previous year.

“We take this issue very seriously and note these figures,” said a spokesman for Scottish Borders Council this week.

The figures are revealed in a response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) enquiry posted on the council website.

The request sought details of the numbers of primary and secondary students found in possession of offensive weapons for the five years up to the last full scholastic year (2010/11).

The council confirms that three weapons (two secondary and one primary) were found in 2006/07, one weapon was removed from a primary pupil in 2007/08 and one was taken from a secondary student in 2008/09.

But in 2009/10 the figure rose to four – three secondary and one primary – and last year it rocketed to 10: six in high schools and four in primaries. The council also reveals an inventory of the weapons.

In secondary schools, the arsenal comprised three knives, five ball bearing (BB) guns, one rock, one wooden stick, one scriber and one weapon described as “improvised”.

Weapons confiscated in primary schools were three knives, one hammer, one screwdriver, one pen knife and one craft knife.

The response does not give information on where and when the incidents occurred, any injuries inflicted or details of any sanctions or punishment taken against the weapon-carrying pupils.

But TheSouthern did report at the start of the 2010/11 session that two pupils had been excluded from Jedburgh Grammar School after shooting at fellow students and a teacher with BB guns in two separate attacks.

The incidents occurred within two days of each other.

In the first, a fourth-year pupil fired pellets at a teacher and, in the second, a third-year student was charged with two minor assaults and referred to the children’s reporter for shooting pellets at two other children in the communal stairway within the school.

Both offending pupils were later readmitted to the school and the head teacher was praised for taking swift action in dealing with the culprits.

Asked this week about the surge in weapons found in schools for the full scholastic year, the SBC spokesman added: “It is something we will continue to monitor closely.”

Meanwhile, the council has also revealed under FoI legislation that there were 130 acts of vandalism at the region’s schools in 2011 which cost the local authority £22,024 to repair.

“It is disappointing that this amount of money is having to be used to repair damage caused by vandalism,” said the spokesman.

“When the police establish who is responsible … it is up to the courts to decide the appropriate punishments.

“We are continually educating our pupils to be responsible citizens.”

The school which endured the largest number of vandal attacks was Burnfoot Primary in Hawick where there were no fewer than 20 incidents which cost the council over £2,200 to put right.