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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 13:50 GMT
Drug dogs to be used in schools
Drug dogs
The scheme is one of a number being used in city schools
Sniffer dogs are to be used in secondary schools on Wearside to deter pupils from using drugs.

A letter is being sent out this week to 50,000 parents in Sunderland advising them of the initiative.

Sunderland City Council has worked with Northumbria Police and the schools to draw up guidelines for the use of police drug dogs on school premises.

It says while substance misuse is not rife, there are concerns a small number might bring in illegal substances.

Sunderland director of education Dr Barbara Comiskey said: "Although it has to be recognised that substance misuse is not the norm, there is a concern that a small number of pupils might be tempted to bring substances on to school premises.

"The strategy of using police drug dogs is to reinforce the message that drugs in schools is not acceptable and we need to deter those who might put themselves and others at risk."

'Complicated issue'

The protocol has been written by the council with guidance from the Department for Education and Skills and Northumbria Police.

The aim is to support co-ordinated activity in schools to help and protect young people, their parents and carers.

City chief inspector of schools Margaret Ferrie said: "Substance misuse is a complicated issue which needs to be tackled by using a variety of strategies.

"The use of police drug dogs is only one of these strategies."

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