Cannabis offences in schools across England rise, data reveals

The number of offences for the possession of Cannabis, the possession of hard controlled drugs like Heroin, Cocaine and Ecstasy and drug trafficking in schools, colleges and Universities across England have all risen in the last few years, according to new insight by leading drug addiction experts UKAT.

As part of a Freedom of Information Request, UKAT asked all Police Constabularies in the country for the number of offences for the possession of cannabis, possession of other controlled drugs and drug trafficking recorded in schools, colleges and Universities across their specific patch.

Of the responses gained, collectively the results show that in just four years, drug offences for cannabis possession have almost doubled, from 371 in 2015 to 544 in 2019, a 47% rise.

The data also shows a concerning uplift in the number of offences for the possession of controlled drugs like Heroin, Cocaine and Ecstasy. 63 offences were recorded back in 2015 and 104 last year, a 65% rise in just four years.

The investigation has been the catalyst for the launch of the UKAT Addiction Education Programme (www.ukat.co.uk/education-programme/v34/ )- a completely free, interactive workshop led by a drug and alcohol specialist, on site in schools, colleges and Universities across the country to educate and engage with pupils on the dangers of substance misuse and peer pressure.

Part of the workshop explores the risks that come with selling drugs, something that is proven to be happening more and more in schools across the country.

UKAT’s data shows that trafficking in controlled drugs offences have risen by a staggering 167% in four years, from 39 offences back in 2015 to 104 in 2019.

Nuno Albuquerque, Treatment Lead at UKAT explains the importance of education providers in England taking proactive steps to prevent the problem developing further;

Our investigation has unearthed every parents worst nightmare; that some children are exposed to and involved in drugs whilst at school; a place they thought they’d be safe at. It’s important to stress the power of preventative action and education when it comes to substances, but those who teach may not have the time or the knowledge to confidently and correctly educate pupils on the dangers of drug and alcohol misuse. That’s why our addiction awareness programme has launched; to take this burden from the teachers who are already forced to wear many hats and to spin many plates, and to place it in the hands of our addiction experts. We are so passionate about working with education providers across the country to collaborate and prevent children from developing life-changing problems with drugs and alcohol. Together, we can make a real difference.”

Nuno Albuquerque, Treatment Lead at UKAT

It’s not just UKAT’s investigation which justifies the need for schools to take greater proactive action when it comes to tackling substance misuse on their premises.

Latest data from NHS England shows that a staggering 38% of pupils aged 11-15 years old were offered drugs in 2018. Furthermore, 19% of 15 year olds used drugs last month (data from 2018) and 29% of 15 year olds who were offered Class A drugs took them.

Misusing drugs and alcohol as a child can cause significant short and long term life and health problems. The child could become physically and psychologically dependent on the substance, which more often than not, leads to taking ‘harder’ substances or consuming more alcohol in order to feel any effect. Because of their substance use, the child could miss out on their education, resulting in a lack of employability. They could then turn to crime to fund their lifestyle and to ‘fit in’ with others around them. Taking proactive, preventative measures will go a long way to ensuring this doesn’t happen to the children at schools in this country.”

Nuno Albuquerque, Treatment Lead at UKAT

UKAT’s data takes into account 19 Police Constabulary responses, including Essex Police, Merseyside Police, Devon & Cornwall Police, West Yorkshire Police, Leicestershire Police, and Northamptonshire Police, all of which have recorded that the number of offences for the possession of Cannabis had more than doubled in schools across their patch from 2015 to 2019.

Surrey Police reported a striking rise in the number of hard, controlled drug offences recorded in local schools, colleges and Universities; from 3 in 2015 to 21 in 2019 and the highest number of offences across all police forces.

Drug trafficking offences in schools are the highest in the West Midlands, with 12 recorded last year compared with just 1 recorded back in 2015.  

The remaining 20 Police Constabularies either failed to provide the requested data to UKAT under their statutory obligation or were unable to extract comparable data for analysis.

Details on the UKAT Addiction Education Programme can be found here. (link to www.ukat.co.uk/education-programme/v34/ )

Signs of Drug Use in Children (by Therapists at the UK Addiction Treatment Group)

  • Changes in mood, eating and sleeping patterns
  • Socializing with different friends
  • Emotional distancing and isolating from family or loved ones
  • Lying or being evasive about whereabouts after school
  • A lack of interest in personal appearance or hygiene
  • Drug paraphernalia in bedroom, school bags, pockets
  • Physical changes like weight loss, bloodshot eyes, regular headaches and sore throats

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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