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News (Media Awareness Project) - New Zealand: School Pays For Drugs Testing
Title:New Zealand: School Pays For Drugs Testing
Published On:2011-10-05
Source:Hawke's Bay Today (New Zealand)
Fetched On:2011-10-06 06:01:21

It's worth doing as a step to ensure our school remains drug free and
a safe place for kids to come to - Rector Ken McLeod,

Lindisfarne CollegeAt least one Hawke's Bay school will continue to do
random drug sniffer dog searches, despite a national police decision
to halt the practice.

Rector at Lindisfarne College Ken McLeod said the searches were an
effective deterrent for drugs, and a private company with sniffer dogs
was employed regularly at the decile 10 integrated school.

"We have [hired a private company] and will continue to do so because
we think it's worth doing as a step to ensure our school remains drug
free and a safe place for kids to come to," he said.

"There is a cost involved but we feel it is worth coming up with money
to do that because it is such a significant issue in the community."

He said the searches were executed at least once every term, and had
never uncovered any drugs.

"We've had a clean sweep every time which is pleasing. They go through
the boarding house and through different parts of the school. We like
to make sure we do a pretty good thorough sweep.

"To the pupils it sends a clear message the school is opposed to drugs
and bringing them to school is totally unacceptable."

Lindisfarne confirmed its stance on drugs tests as the police called a
halt to all school drugs tests by officers with dogs. Nationally,
police are refusing to carry out the random searches at schools after
legal advice around claims use of drug-sniffer dogs breaches pupils'
civil rights.

Eastern District Operations Manager Inspector Mike O'Leary said the
change was not new for Hawke's Bay as local drug searches had long
since stopped in favour of a more educational approach.

"We will be reviewing all interaction that we have with schools,
although we have known about this for some time," he said. "We have
been focusing on education and not enforcement, as that has been left
in the domain of the school."

Mr O'Leary said schools used to be able to approach Police Youth
Education divisions and ask for the searches, and then work with
police to deal with any students caught with illegal substances.

"This has only occurred when the school's administration have found
that they have had a problem," he said. "Drugs have sometimes been
found on students or in their bags. The pupil is dealt with by the
school, assisted by Youth Education."

Hawke's Bay Secondary Schools Principals Association president Neal
Swindells said the lack of police drugs searches was not a "hot issue"
in the region, but the effectiveness of the practice would be missed.

"It's not really a hot issue or anything, but it's one of those
techniques we could use to try and keep our schools drug free."

Random searches would probably be preferred by principals, but
police-led drug education was valued, he said.

"Schools would love to be able to get the police to come in and do
random searches," Mr Swindells said. "I am pretty sure that's
standard, but they haven't been able to do that in Hawke's Bay for a
couple of years.

"A school gets word from time to time that there could be students
bringing drugs to school but they are pretty hard to find, so if we
knew of an incident and could investigate, especially with help from
police, then it's really helpful."
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