Cannabis possession rises in schools and colleges
The number of schoolchildren and students being found with cannabis has risen over the last five years, new figures have shown.
There were 64 offences of cannabis possession at “education establishments” in the West Midlands last year, up from 50 in 2015.
The data was provided by West Midlands Police under the Freedom of Information Act and is thought to include schools, colleges and universities.
There was also a slight rise in Staffordshire, where figures provided for just schools and colleges showed a rise from 18 in 2015 to 26 in 2018.
Campaigners said the figures showed drugs in schools and other places of education was becoming an increasing problem.
There were three offences for possession of controlled drugs like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy in 2019, down from six in 2018 and four in in 2015.
Drug trafficking offences in places of education climbed from one in 2015, to four in 2018 and 12 in 2019.
Experts fear the risks of cannabis use, which include serious mental health issues and even suicide in later life, are not being made clear to teenagers.
Nuno Albuquerque, treatment lead at drug experts UKAT, which has launched an addiction education programme in schools, said: “Misusing drugs and alcohol as a child can cause significant short and long term life and health problems.
“The child could become physically and psychologically dependent on the substance, which more often than not, leads to taking ‘harder’ substances or consuming more alcohol in order to feel any effect.
“Because of their substance use, the child could miss out on their education, resulting in a lack of employability. They could then turn to crime to fund their lifestyle and to ‘fit in’ with others.
“We urge the Government to review welfare policies in the education sector and to encourage drug and alcohol awareness programmes led by experts into schools as a matter of urgency, because our investigation proves that more and more young people are embarking on a very destructive path.”
West Midlands Police commissioner David Jamieson said he was determined to tackle the issue, but that education remained the key to preventing young people getting involved in cannabis use.
He said: “We need to be doing more to educate on the dangers of illegal substances. Some young people are under the misapprehension that there aren’t big risks to smoking cannabis.”