School defends pupils’ drug search

NMAC11-3326-1  ''Mansfield Woodhouse Manor Academy
NMAC11-3326-1 ''Mansfield Woodhouse Manor Academy

Teachers at a Mansfield have defended their decision to call in a police sniffer dog to carry out surprise drug searches on pupils during lessons.

Pupils at The Manor Academy in Mansfield Woodhouse were subject to the operation when a police sniffer dog was brought in to detect any traces of illegal substances they may have been carrying.

Accompanied by a handler and eight officers, they spent around 90 minutes on the Park Hall Road site entering random classrooms.

The move has been questioned by some, who says parents should have been told in advance, rather than being contacted by text message after the operation was executed. Police confirmed that a suspected illegal substance was found on one pupil at Manor Academy, and was taken away for analysis.

The Manor Academy is the second school in our region to carry out the surprise searches, after Queen Elizabeth Academy organised a similar operation before Christmas, and no drugs were detected.

Donna Casey, The Manor Academy’s deputy headteacher, said staff are pleased they took the decision and have not ruled out further operations.

She said: “It was part of a planned operation, working in collaboration with the police. It’s a preventative measure and something that was planned three months in advance. We do not have an issue with drugs, and by doing this we hopefully won’t have an issue with drugs.

“This is not something we have done before, we know that Queen Elizabeth Academy have done it before and it went really well, so we had it in mind.

“I’m sure there will be other schools interested. It’s about being proactive rather than waiting for a possible issue.

“School in the past have been a closed door, but we’re not working like that anymore, we are working as a team with the police and we’re happy with the way it is going.”

Jonathon Hickman, The Manor Academy headteacher, added: “We have for a number of years worked in partnership with Nottinghamshire Police with the aim of keeping students safe.

“The visit was part of our ongoing partnership work and the Academy’s commitment to doing all that we can to inform and educate our students about the potential dangers of illegal substances.”

The operation was praised by police, with neighbourhood beat manager for Mansfield, Sgt Andy Downie, saying: “It is commendable that the school has approached us to tackle the issue of drugs.

“Too often we deal with youngsters who have had their lives ruined by illegal substances.

“By taking this proactive approach we can help educate youngsters about the dangers of drugs and show the tough stance taken by our communities.”

He said taking sniffer dogs into the classroom has not been commonplace in the past, but as police begin to work more closely with schools, he is expecting more operations to be arranged.

The police dog is trained to sniff out drugs and will sit beside those who give off a scent of illegal substances, so a search of the person’s bag or pockets can then be carried out.

However, one angry mother contacted Chad claiming her daughter had been singled out despite having no trace of drugs on her.

Terri Lee, from Mansfield Woodhouse, felt her 17-year-old daughter, Jordan, had been unfairly treated and said:

“She felt humiliated. It’s not been handled in a proper manner. She was frightened to death.

“I’m all for this, I’m happy that they are doing this if it means finding people with drugs, but not how they did it.”

The school did not want to comment on individual cases.