Warning after pupils 12 or under are caught with knives at South Tyneside schools
Three pupils aged 12 or under have been caught in possession of knives at school across South Tyneside in the last two years.
The figures are accompanied by a passionate warning today about the dangers of carrying weapons from a local campaigner whose own teenage grandson was stabbed to death.
Pat McDougall, 69, whose grandson, Glen Corner, was murdered in 2006, insists: “Even one case is too many.
“My message to people carrying knives is that you shouldn’t believe that they will keep you safe. Far from it.”
The statistics were obtained by a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Northumbria Police on behalf of the Gazette.
They reveal that the youngest pupil to be found in possession of a knife on school premises on South Tyneside during 2016-17 was aged between 10-12.
The data, requested by our parent company’s Johnston Press Investigation Unit, also records two similar examples involving the same age group during 2015-16.
Yet overall figures for knife seizures in borough schools are small, static and at odds with the United Kingdom picture in which the number of young people caught on school premises with blades has risen by a third to more than 1,000 a year since 2012.
Separate National Health Service (NHS) statistics also obtained by our investigations unit suggest that the number of people of all age groups admitted to hospital with knife wounds has increased nationwide by more than 13 per cent from 3,849 to 4,351 over the same period.
While the number of such admissions across South Tyneside over this time is fairly level, the victims include young people aged anywhere from 10 to 19 in four of the last five full years.]
Our findings have prompted a leading anti-knife campaigner to make a renewed appeal for youngsters to beware the dangers of carrying blades before tragedy strikes.
Mrs McDougall, whose grandson, Glen Corner, was stabbed to death in Harton, South Shields, on his 16th birthday, said: “I am not surprised to hear of victims so young.
“My message to people carrying knives is that you shouldn’t believe that they will keep you safe. Far from it.
“You can end up in jail, ending someone’s life, losing your own and ruining many other people’s lives as well. Even today, more than 11 years on, I can never forget what happened to Glen and never will.
“He is the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think of before I go to sleep.”
The year 2015-16 is the only one in the last five full years in which there were no South Tyneside stabbing admissions aged between 10-19.
While the NHS figures reveal the overall totals across all age groups on South Tyneside - rising from 15 in 2012-13, for instance, to 16 in 2016-17 - confidentiality restrictions mean they only confirm that the number of patients aged 10-19 was in the one-to-five bracket for each of the remaining four years.
In comparison with the nationwide rise in knife seizures on school grounds, there was just one recorded instance of a young person being in possession of an offensive weapon on South Tyneside in both 2012-13 and 2016-17.
The former case centred on a teenager aged between 13-15.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “Making sure our young people have a safe learning environment is of paramount importance.
“While it is reassuring to see that there have been so very few incidences of knives found in the borough’s schools, this is an issue we take very seriously.
“To this end, we work closely with our schools and the police to educate our young people of the dangers of knife possession.”
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Ged Noble, of Northumbria Police, said: “The number of reports we receive about young people involved in knife crime in schools, is thankfully very low in Northumbria.
“This is reflective of our proactive approach to tackling such issues and educating young people about the potential devastating consequences that carrying a knife could have, not only for any victims and their families but also to their own lives.
“Our neighbourhood teams work with schools to engage with pupils, and thousands of young people visit SafetyWorks, a dedicated interactive centre supported by Northumbria Police, where groups learn about a range of safety issues, including those linked with knife crime.”