Home Secretary Jacqui Smith seems to reacting to tabloid newspaper column inches and broadcast "news" reporting of murders and other attacks involving Knives in Schools, with some vague plan to install Metal Detectors at School Gates - despite the fact that most of the high profile cases in the news recently have involved knife attacks outside of school premises, and the lack of secure perimeters in most schools, allowing such equipment to be easily bypassed.
Instead of wasting money, and putting untrained, unprotected school staff at risk, no money should be wasted on such a scheme, until every Prison and detention centre is properly equipped with metal detectors, which, scandalously, they are not.
Like her Labour predecessors as Home Secretary (and no doubt also previous Conservative ones as well), she used an "exclusive" interview with a Sunday Newspaper, this time The Observer, (Knife scanners at school gates to curb attacks) to half announce (without any Parliamentary debate or public consultation) Yet Another Technological Magic Fix in the hope of Being Seen To Be Doing Something.
Search arches similar to those at airports will have an alarm activated when pupils with suspicious metal objects pass through. Children will not be forced to empty pockets before going through, reducing fears that the controls will compromise their privacy. All pupils will have to face checks to avoid accusations that stereotypes are being targeted. Schools in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham, the worst affected cities, are among the metropolitan areas where they will be encouraged.
Walk-through detectors designed to spot guns, knives and other flat and rod-shaped weapons cost almost £5,000 each. Home Office sources said funding issues were still being discussed, adding that the department had put £1.75m into 400 local groups combating knife crime. Larger schools are likely to order a number of detectors.
- Exactly how many schools are overrun with knife carrying pupils ?
- How many metal detectors will this vague funding promise buy, assuming that the money for the 400 local groups is mostly spent on administration and on other educational initiatives ?
- How many trained security guards and Police officers with a power of arrest, with stab resistant body armour, who are trained to actually do something useful if a knife is actually detected will this money pay for ?
- Surely teachers or school caretakers are not going to have operate these machines , and guard them against theft and vandalism, are they ?
The BBC then followed up this story on Monday with Metal detectors plan for schools which appears to show that the main Opposition parties are supporting or tolerating this stupid policy
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the installation of scanners in some schools was "long overdue".
"We hope that - for a change - this initiative actually makes it beyond the front page."
Chris Huhne, for the Liberal Democrats, said the move was "sad but necessary" and urged greater use of stop and search powers to combat knife crime.
How can all these politicians be so impractical and out of touch with reality ?
As we noted in our previous blog article about the heavily hyped trial of metal detectors at, say Hammersmith Bus / Tube / Shopping centre, it was the rare presence of three Police officers on foot patrol which was the important factor, not the actual metal detecto, which itself needed to be guarded to prevent it from being stolen or vandalised.
A Home Office spokesman said: "More detail will be available in the Tackling Violence Action Plan which the home secretary will publish in the next few weeks.
"We are continuing to tackle knife crime through responsive policing, and prevention projects which provide diversionary activities, training, peer mentoring and education projects."
Note the use of the weasel words "continue to tackle", something which can be true, even if vast amounts of public money are spent, without actually achieving anything, except media spin and hype, and the continued employment of bureaucurats to forever tinker with the "policy".
We reject the whole idea of wasting money on such metal detectors in schools - they will be too dangerous for teachers etc. to operate, if there really is a gang based knife culture which has infected the school, in which case multiple Police officers with stab resistant body armour and radio backup are needed. If there is not really a knife problem, then school staff should be able to cope without the expense the brainwashing of their pupils to accept such privacy invasions as somehow normal.
We support the purchase of some more more metal detectors, but these should, instead, be installed in all Prisons and detention centres: