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Last Updated: Monday, 25 April, 2005, 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK
Should schools use sniffer dogs?
Sniffer dog called Trigger searching for drugs at the Heart of England School in Balsall Common, UK
Local education authorities in the UK are being urged to use sniffer dogs to stop drugs being brought into schools.

The dogs were found to be effective in deterring drug dealing and use in schools after criminologists evaluated a pilot scheme.

An independent study of the programme then recommended that it be extended, although researchers have warned that procedures must be robust so that children do not play truant to avoid being caught.

Are you in favour of sniffer dogs being used at schools? Will it work?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by David R, Plymouth, UK:
Are sniffer dogs in schools a good anti-drugs strategy? Is it an effective use of tax money?

Great idea, people may say that the idea is to target dealers, but many kids are sold drugs at school, so remove all drugs from school and eliminate customers and dealers.
John Whittaker, Hook, UK

I think it says something of our society that sniffer dogs may be used in schools. It makes me sad. I don't think enough is done to work with young people. I'm a youth worker and feel young people are neglected.
Gemma, Canterbury

Sniffer dogs may help the problem of drugs in school, but if kids are that desperate, they'll just go elsewhere. It's there they should be looking, not in schools.
Lora Jackman, Morpeth

Yes, definitely. We had them brought in every so often when I was at school, and they seemed to help the situation. And to settle a common myth, not all sniffer dogs bark at someone who has drugs; many are trained simply to sit next to that person.
Richard, Lancashire

I have smoked cannabis for nearly two years now, and never once took any into school. If I were still at school now I would simply leave. How about putting sniffer dogs in all workplaces?
Anonymous, Glasgow

I would refuse to allow anyone to have a dog sniffing over my child
Jonny, England
What about kids who are scared of dogs? What about cultures who regard dogs as dirty creatures? I would refuse to allow anyone to have a dog sniffing over my child.
Jonny, England

A big NO to sniffer dogs in schools. If sniffer dogs are to be used to also detect tobacco and alcohol, two of the most dangerous drugs around, only then might it be okay.
David H., Norwich, Norfolk.

I've already had these dogs round our school, which presented no problems. I think it's a fantastic idea. It's sad that we have to search schools, a supposedly safe place, for filth.
Del, West Midlands.

I go to a school sixth form in one of the 'most deprived areas of the country' with low exam results, low morale, etc. However, all this talk of there being drug and knife problems in schools I just cannot believe. Despite my school being in such a high-crime area, I have NEVER EVER seen anyone carry a knife, and rarely see people smoking cannabis.
Richard, UK

Great! More money wasted fighting the symptoms of drug abuse instead of the cause. Legalise the lot, and treat addiction and abuse like you would with any other substance.
Rob, Bath, UK

So are we all volunteering to have sniffer dogs on the way into our workplaces? No? Then by what double standard do we impose it on children?
Anon, UK

I would not object to the use of search dogs around the college premises, but they should not be permitted in a room where learning is taking place. Any dogs coming into my classroom will leave knowing more ICT than they did when they came in, likewise their handlers. Anyone who enters my room when I am teaching gets the same treatment!
Megan, Cheshire

I want children to learn in an atmosphere of trust
Adrian King, Reading, UK
The biggest danger is the loss of trust. I want children to learn in an atmosphere of trust, not suspicion. Learning that success is 'not being found out' won't prepare them to cope with drugs in or out of school. Why not involve them in developing a school drugs policy that makes them feel valued, and with which they are more likely to want to co-operate?
Adrian King, Reading, UK

It's for their own and the other pupils good. If you're doing nothing wrong then there is nothing to worry about.
Mike C, Wigan, UK

Sniffer dogs should have been used sooner. Now they are being used inside schools, what about the young pushers who wait outside the school gate?
Lena, Cardiff UK

There are legal implications and sniffer dogs do not always get it right. How about making lessons interesting so the students do not feel the need to take drugs in the first place?
Adrian Cannon, Edinburgh

They will now switch to using it outside school
Nene Ako, Accra, Ghana
This will only prevent them from bringing the stuff to school. They will now switch to using it outside school. What I suggest, in addition to the introduction of the dogs, is random testing of suspected drug users. This would be enough of a deterrent.
Nene Ako, Accra, Ghana

When I was at school, drugs were only touched on lightly and it was usually only a couple of individuals associated with them. Nowadays, children are running wild and their parents have no idea. I think sniffer dogs are a good idea as I'm sure children can get hold of drugs much more easily these days.
James Anthony, Cheshire

A bit late in the day - here in Brighton we have had the facility for over a year.
Jim Evans, Brighton

When I was at school I knew a lot of kids who did drugs in the toilets. It was a big problem then, it's still a big problem now. Sniffer dogs are a good idea, but teachers also need to wake up and pay more attention to the kids.
Gemma, Bristol, UK

In today's society we have no way of handling troublesome 14-year-olds
Mark Fulford, Southampton
So when a dog finds drugs, what happens then? In today's society we have no way of handling troublesome 14-year-olds without consigning them to the junk heap. We need to reverse some of our legislation and allow authority to deal with bad behaviour with a good clip around the ear. Then, perhaps, bad behaviour wouldn't progress to outright criminality.
Mark Fulford, Southampton

It's all well and good until some poor child gets mauled by one of the sniffer dogs.
Elizabeth, Plymouth

In the 1980s, I watched a futuristic film about a school with metal detectors on all the doors, and police on the gates, and thought "what a horrible world that would be". I suppose we can get used to any levels of abuse and degradation.
Steve, UK

Never mind schools, what about colleges and universities? Our college is awash with drugs. I've already suggested this to security but the college don't admit they have a problem.
Al, UK

Children would get easily distracted by a number of dogs sniffing round their feet during a history lesson, it's a bit impractical.
Jack, Manchester

I've always believed that people tend to fulfil your expectations of them: treat children like they're criminals and they'll behave like criminals.
Duncan King, Edinburgh

It may give the children a bit more of a social conscience
Dianne, Canterbury
If you haven't done anything wrong, there is nothing to worry about. The dogs won't hurt anybody. It's not as if there will be gun slung policemen parading amongst the children. It may give the children a bit more of a social conscience and teach them to respect law and order.
Dianne, Canterbury

I believe that compulsory drugs tests are a splendid idea, and that children caught in possession, should be expelled. Other children and their parents will not want contact with drugs in school, which is why permanent exclusion, for the few who are detected, is essential.
Paul Knott, Spalding

I am soon taking my kids out of school and my wife and I will educate them ourselves. This just proves that we made the right decision. What have we come to if our kids are the subjects of metal detectors and sniffer dogs in school. This country is really going down the drain.
Matt, Plymouth

It is a good if controversial idea as one objective of dealers is to start them young. However, prevention is better than cure and it amazes me that in three years of commuting from Manchester to Amsterdam and back every week, I encountered the airport sniffer dog just once.
Bob, Cheshire

It's a great idea and we should see more of thise
Louy, Cheshire
It's a great idea and we should see more of this, why any one has a problem with it is besides me. Are we a guilty nation that doesn't want to know about our youngsters doing drugs especially in school? Drug use should be stopped no matter what. Use of dogs is the best method, or would you prefer our kids to get random blood tested and urine sampled - that's way more invasive and intrusive. And I am sure that kids that are genuinely afraid of dogs are dealt with appropriately and compassionately.
Louy, Cheshire

Absolutely. Schools in areas with drugs problems should indeed use sniffer dogs. Anything that inhibits a child's chances of succumbing to the dangerous temptations out there is a good thing.
Emily, Essex, UK

First we reclassify cannabis, sending a message to children that it's only a bit of fun, now we propose hounding them with sniffer dogs!
David Walton, Westerham, UK

Oh yeah, the kids will surely be ignorant enough to bring drugs into a school, especially with a sniffer dog about! Drugs aren't brought into school guys, they're done outside of school.
Sacha, Walsall, England

It's about time people were called to account for way they choose to behave
Nick Scahill, Hove

Absolutely - we should certainly use them! Only the guilty have anything to hide. Why let the criminal minority infect those of us fighting for our kids to lead decent lives... or would that impinge upon the human rights of the poor defenceless drug takers, bullies and thugs? It's about time people were called to account for way they choose to behave.
Nick Scahill, Hove

I recently took my daughter to school. As I walked across the main entrance I heard two lads shouting to mates, "anyone want to buy some skunk?" Blatant as it was, it was not a surprise.
Anon, Bristol

Rather than reduce the number of school children taking drugs, I think this measure will encourage those that do to stay away from school. Although it may reduce possession and dealing of drugs in schools, I don't think it will prevent school children from taking or selling drugs out of school.
Charlotte, Derbyshire

I don't think it would be feasible to have sniffer dogs in school everyday. If the dogs were brought in on random days this could be enough to stop the majority of pupils bringing in drugs.
Steve, Nottingham

What better way to alienate a generation, than to treat them like criminals?
George, Sheffield, UK

Perhaps they should concentrate on students bringing weapons into school!!!
Madaline Stott, Sale, Manchester

So this is what Tony Blair meant when he preached "Education, Education, Education" - sniffer dogs, metal detectors, and illiterate children.
Dave J, Notts

Seems like an over the top response. I appreciate it might sound wimpish but we are surely better off talking with children about drug and alcohol use to minimise the demand.
Brendan, Aberdeen

As a parent to four boys, I welcome virtually ANY measure which will ensure the filth is kept away from the school. I would extend it to sniffing anyone outside the school at opening and closing times.
David Boiardi, London

It sounds an excellent idea, but has it been costed?
Paul Gunton, Redhill
It sounds an excellent idea, but has it been costed? What does it cost to train a sniffer dog, never mind two, for every school? And who will look after them? Will they be paid for their trouble?
Paul Gunton, Redhill, UK

A hapless attempt I feel. Why not spend money on understanding and tackling the UK drug problem. Something that nobody seems to have done yet.
James, Wales

If you have nothing to hide you can't possibly object. How many times will this facile and stupid argument be used to justify the latest steps towards a police state? Do teachers not have any responsibility or duty of care any more?
Tom, UK

Yes, sniffer dogs are an excellent idea. Schools should be crime free and a haven for safety. If pupils have no drugs on them then they have nothing to worry about. It's about time something like this happened.
Steve Fricker, Warsash,

The police and government need to focus on the dealers and pushers and not some kid with a little lump of hash at school.
Chris, London

This is just silly. Drugs in schools are a problem, but even if we could eliminate them from schools entirely, it doesn't mean kids will suddenly stop experimenting with drugs outside school, does it? Most teenagers try drugs, a very small minority go on to have problems, and the majority of drug-related activity takes place outside of schools anyway. This strikes me as an extremely large and cumbersome hammer being used to crack a tiny nut.
Rhiannon Todd, Cardiff

Shouldn't we be looking at the root of the problem - why the children want to take drugs. You'll find a lot of the time it is due to boredom. Maybe if schools and government put the sniffer dogs money towards some after school clubs or similar it would benefit everyone in society.
David Hilton, Hudds, UK

Employers should be given the right to use dogs in the office or on the factory floor
John, England
Sounds like a good idea to me. Since drugs in the workplace are just as big a problem as drugs in school, the scheme should be extended. Employers should be given the right to use dogs or other measures in the office or on the factory floor.
John, England

So what will be next, security guards in every classroom? Let's look at the reason kids want to take drugs in the first place.
Jill, Scotland

Yes. There are a lot of people in my school that take drugs and I know that they probably take it in school. Druggies ruin people's lives and terrorise the community.
Grant, Elgin Scotland

What's the point? The kids will just use drugs everywhere but school instead.
Chris, UK

Of course they should be used in schools. Everything possible needs to be done to assist in restoring discipline in schools, reduce bullying, and restore the image of law and order. Peer pressure can be another form of bullying, and dealing drugs to children is child abuse: the people who do it are amongst the lowest of the low. Go for it!
Rory Dobson, Inverness, Scotland

Do we really have that much of a problem in our schools that this is necessary? Moreover, who's going to pay for it?
Alex, Aylesbury, UK

Forty years ago, when I was a grubby little prep-school boy with pockets full of dark secrets, it was virtually a capital offence to be found in possession of a pea shooter. If class A drugs, knives and loaded firearms are the norm today then surely serious and fundamental flaws in modern society must be urgently addressed. Rather than absurd and ineffective remedies such as the use of sniffer dogs, a prophylactic approach to tomorrow's looming nightmare may go some distance to limit the future scenario of break time trading in anthrax, AK47s and re-cycled plutonium.
Patrick V Staton, Guildford, UK

Knives are also a problem; let's have metal detectors as well! Oh the joys of a free, liberal society.
Ed, Aberdeen, Scotland

I am in my last year of school and have never had anything to do with drugs but I would not welcome sniffer dogs being used when I am trying to learn. I would also not want someone searching through all my things and this is not because I have something to hide but because I find it degrading. It is bad enough boarding a plane to America because I look suspicious.
Graeme, Peterborough

A sniffer dog was sent into my son's school last year - it didn't find any drugs - even though several of the boys had drugs on them
Heather, UK

A sniffer dog was sent into my son's school last year - it didn't find any drugs - even though several of the boys had drugs on them. My son says approximately half of the kids take drugs, some are on them when they come to school/college. They actually roll them or sniff them at break time. I think people are naive if they think that it is just a tiny minority that take drugs in school. Unfortunately in the real world kids take drugs and if sniffer dogs help to find which children are taking the drugs perhaps the children can be helped.
Heather, UK

It's a total waste of time. I've had a sniffer dog search my car whilst I had an eighth of weed in it and the animal was far more interested in the ham roll on the back seat! As a school governor and ex-teacher (with my drug-taking days firmly behind me!), I am wary of expensive measures such as sniffer dogs in schools. Most teachers worth their salt will know which pupils are likely to be carrying/dealing drugs and can act accordingly. I do not like the idea of an escalating series of intrusive measures in schools in order to root out a small minority, who will doubtlessly continue their nefarious activities outside the school gate anyway.
Steve, Bristol

I finished school five years ago, and at that time, the level of drug taking/dealing was tiny. An eighth of hash here and there was about all it amounted to. With this in mind, and the cost of having police inspecting classrooms all day, in every school in Britain, is it really economically or socially feasible? Where will these police come from? The understaffed forces we currently have, or the thousands of new police pledged by various parties in the election (the ones pledged to help pound the streets to deter violent crime etc)? What a joke.
J Stansfield, Edinburgh, Scotland

Having been savaged by a dog as a child, even as an adult I do not want them anywhere near me lest of all sniffing around me. I cannot be the only person so affected, so how this would be squared up against a genuine need to seek out drugs is an interesting question.
Cailean Watts, Edenbridge, Kent

What next? Airport style security at the school gate?
Ross, Nottingham

This is the most stupid idea for a long time. Why not just throw any drugs on the floor - that is what everyone does in pubs and clubs. Good idea if every school has its own dog I suppose, maybe a class sniffer dog instead of the rabbit.
Neil D, Birmingham, UK

Sniffer dogs are not going to solve anything if the kids in the school are bringing drugs to school with them. We should be questioning the school and the local area and spending the money on sorting out their problems rather than creating more.
Rebecca, Wallasey, Merseyside

What a shame it has come to this, but if it has, it has. My main worry is that once caught the child will be told not to be naughty and millions will be spent for social services to descend on the whole family to make sure they are not being deprived of anything. Drugs should mean expulsion. Never mind their rights, I have a right to demand that my daughter's school excludes such influences.
Douglas, Milton Keynes, UK

Whatever happened to locker searches, turning out pockets and other regular measures? Or do they fall foul of some Children's Rights infringement?
Lorraine, St Albans, UK

Let's face it - the only kids with any justifiable objection to this are those with something to hide. Surely we have a right (if not a duty!) to protect the rest of the children from dealers operating within our schools.
Paul, London

Great idea. I think sniffer dogs should be used more and more. Airports and clubs should be encouraged to use them in the fight against the evil of drugs and the gangs who profit from them.
John Karran, Merseyside

I'd rather be safe than sorry.
Phillip Evans, Wales





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