Children as young as EIGHT caught with weapons at school, say West Mercia Police
Children as young as eight have been found to be carrying weapons in the region's primary and secondary schools, it has been revealed.
Alarming statistics released following a Freedom of Information request made to West Mercia Police show 35 children under the age of 16 have been involved in 29 offences involving weapons in schools since 2014 in the region.
Weapons found included knives, bladed articles and sharp points, as well as firearms including BB guns.
The statistics revealed that the youngest offender was just eight years old.
In 2014 a total of six offences were reported to police, in 2015 five offences were reported and last year saw the biggest rise – with 18 offences reported to West Mercia Police.
Last year also saw 18 children involved in these sorts of offences.
Superintendent Kevin Purcell, who leads on children and young people for West Mercia Police, said part of the force's work was examining why a child feels the need to bring a weapon in to school with them.
He said: "Every incident involving a weapon is reviewed in full by our officers. Such reviews include in-depth discussions with the relevant school, social services, parents and the child. This will be either through the school or directly by the police based upon the child, and other children's, needs.
"Such figures show appropriate recording and each incident then means we are are able to critically examine why a child sees the need to bring in such an item."
Superintendent Purcell said that trained officers visit schools to educate pupils about the dangers of weapons, as well as a number of other issues.
He said: "We have trained officers who deliver educational programmes to schools that vary from stranger danger, the carrying of weapons and sexting. These programmes increase awareness, encourage others to report incidents and offer us the best chance to explain issues."
The officer also said that the police would do whatever they could in conjunction with schools who report such incidents to make sure they do not happen again.
He said: "All adults will, I hope, understand that whilst the carrying of any weapon by any child into the school environment is a cause for concern, as important is the firm and appropriate intervention that we put in place with the school after the event to ensure that the same incidents do not reoccur."