A TORY MSP has called for metal detectors to be introduced in Lothian schools to combat the carrying of weapons – after 46 were seized from youngsters in 2014-15.
The demand from Cameron Buchanan follows the shocking figures – released by Police Scotland after an Evening News Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
The figures are down slightly on the previous year, when 53 weapons – ranging from flick knives to homemade knuckle-dusters – were found or seen in the possession of children.
The FOI response did not specify how many of these crimes were committed on school property but Mr Buchanan insisted metal detectors in entrance areas would reduce the problem.
Mr Buchanan, who described the figures as “awful” and “shockingly high”, added: “I think a lot of these children carry these weapons for self-protection but that just perpetuates the problem.
I think a lot of these children carry these weapons for self-protection but that just perpetuates the problem.Cameron Buchanan
“One child carries a weapon so another one does so the thing multiplies. It is the same thing they have in America with guns. They [teachers and security staff] should be searching schools for weapons via a scanner or metal detector. It would be quite simple to put in. There are usually two entrances to the school so it wouldn’t take more than two metal detectors.
“This has to happen. If we don’t take action I think the problem will escalate, and things like flick knives and iron bars shouldn’t be difficult to detect.”
Superintendent Alan Porte welcomed the slight fall in the number of incidents and pledged the police would continue to “take swift and robust action” against offenders.
He said: “We’re delighted to see this reduction in Edinburgh and the Lothians. It’s important to remember that the majority of our young people do respect the law and incidents like this are rare.
“Our School Liaison Officers do fantastic work to educate young people on the dangers of possessing a weapon, and the potential consequences of such behaviour.
“We will continue to work with our local communities, partners in education and third sector organisations to prevent this behaviour. Be assured that we will take swift and robust action against perpetrators when this does occur.” Weapons reported to police or recovered this year included a sharpened screwdriver, a crowbar and a kubotan – a keychain stick weapon made from steel, aliminium, wood or plastic.
An improvised club made from a wooden table leg and a flick knife were among the items carried by children in the previous year.
A police spokesman stressed that crimes of possession of an offensive weapon, knife or bladed article “may not necessarily correspond to the number of children physically found in possession of a weapon by officers.”
He added: “A child could be seen with a knife by a number of witnesses, the police are called and then attend. There’s sufficient evidence to charge the child due to witness evidence but they have discarded the knife prior to police attendance and it cannot be found. This would be recorded as possession of a weapon, though the weapon was not seized.”