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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 00:25 GMT 01:25 UK
Why my school uses search wands
By Hannah Goff
BBC News education reporter

mobile phone
The wands pick up on mobiles which the school does not allow
As head teachers are given new powers to search pupils for weapons, one principal explains why he uses metal detectors in his college.

Tollbar Business and Enterprise College doesn't have a problem with violence, but it has been using search wands for at least three years.

Principal David Hampson says his 2,000-pupil comprehensive just outside Grimsby was one of the first places to have introduced the wands.

"I saw them going through the airports and I thought, 'What a clever idea'.

"They pick up an awful lot of mobile phones - which we do not allow.

"Instead of having to physically search a child we use the wands."

He explains: "We don't have a problem with children bringing weapons into the college, it's just that we believe prevention is better than cure."

Playground scuffles

He says the wands were introduced for positive reasons, but acknowledges they can be useful for playground scuffles.

"For exams, for example, we will use them to check the pupils don't have any mobile phones on them.

"But if we had any suspicions that a child was carrying something suspicious we would use the wand on them and as a result all pupils feel safe.

"If we have a fight, which happen in all schools and colleges from time to time, we would search the children just as a precaution because the children know then that we have got them and it prevents problems."

Mr Hampson says his pupils and staff were not against the introduction of the search wands.

"The only reaction was from the press. Many of the children probably see it as a positive."

The search wands are just one part of the college's security and protection system.

It also has an extensive CCTV system protecting not only the pupils from intruders but the thousands of computers it has on site.

"We are simply doing everything we can for the security and protection of our children."

Many head teachers and principals would welcome the new powers to authorise searches, Mr Hampson said, but he added that for his college and many others it was nothing new.

"We have always had a policy of being able to search a child but that is only for senior staff - myself, the assistant principals and the five vice-principals."

Reaction from teachers' union to the new powers

School power to search for knives
31 May 07 |  Education
Schools advised on knife searches
22 Feb 07 |  Education
Blair to hold summit on gun crime
22 Feb 07 |  UK Politics
School knife crimes 'blunted' out
21 Nov 06 |  Oxfordshire
Schools told weapons scans are OK
16 Oct 06 |  Education
Heads 'want police knife checks'
25 Jul 06 |  Education

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