Revealed: The number of knives seized in schools across the borough

Children were able to buy these knives in B&M stores in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath. Pic: B

Children were able to buy these knives in B&M stores in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath. Pic: Barking and Dagenham Council - Credit: Archant

Fourteen knives were seized in schools, pupil referral units and colleges in Barking and Dagenham last year, it has been revealed.

The figure was revealed as an event took place to discuss how to make sure classrooms were safe for pupils and staff.

In nine of the cases the weapon was found by a teacher or other member of staff.

Headteachers, community representatives, Met Police and the council came together at the event, which was funded by the record-breaking fine issued to B&M in September 2018 for selling knives to children from their Barking store.

They discussed what powers could be used to search pupils and confiscate banned items such as knives.

Councillor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for community safety and enforcement, said: "While this issue is far worse in other parts of London, it's important that we face up to the reality that it can happen in any school.

"This isn't about alarming parents or pupils, it's about responding to what's sadly become a common problem in the capital and making sure we're taking a proactive approach.

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"By focusing on tackling the root cause of issues, rather than always trying to tackle the resulting problems, we can hopefully prevent these young people ending up becoming a statistic and help them fulfil their potential."

The event is the continuation of work that began in January at London's first tri-borough Serious Violence Summit, held in Dagenham with Havering and Redbridge councils.

It forms a key part of the approach to dealing with knife crime in the borough.

Cllr Mullane said: "Some people might think the easy solution is to exclude kids caught carrying knives - but then what?

"There is a knock-on effect and we have a duty as a responsible council to work with partner agencies to tackle the issues."

Eastbury Community School headteacher David Dickson was among the school heads who attended the event.

He said: "This highly informative event adds to the excellent work being done through partnership working to keep all children in the borough safe.

"The event enhanced the robust procedures schools have in place to take swift and appropriate action when there is evidence that pupils are at risk".