Drug dealing offence highlights the importance of school police officers

A high school pupil is selling drugs to his classmates on school grounds.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 4th August 2016, 2:00 pm

It’s a parent’s nightmare come true and something teachers and the education authority never want to see at their school.

Thankfully the incident of cannabis selling which happened at Larbert High School at the start of the year was stamped out quickly by the school’s campus police officer.

The offence came to light when a pupil went to the police officer and told him about the dealing going on in school.

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The 17-year-old offender, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at Falkirk Sheriff Court last Thursday having previously pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of the class B drug at Larbert High on January 29.

Procurator fiscal depute Gavin Whyte said: “These were school pupils who were being supplied. The school-based police officer was approached by a pupil in Larbert High School about it.

“The accused was selling cannabis to pupils at the school.

“The officer detained the accused and he was searched and cautioned. The officer discovered £170, a grinder, scales, small plastic bags and two mobile phones.

“The accused was asked if there was anything on the phones and he said messages to dealers. He told the officer ‘I was going to go into selling harder stuff but I’m not going to now’.”

The court heard that some of the £170 found on the accused was money he had received for Christmas.

Lynne Swan, defence solicitor, said: “He is a first offender and he was suspended from the school. He had a place at Stirling University but was unable to go. His mother said he is a very bright boy but he is not the same boy I knew five years ago.

“He has had some difficulties with his mental health. He was financing his own drug use through this offence.”

Sheriff Derek Livingston said: “People who use drugs almost invariably have some form of psychosis.”

The teenager was placed on a supervised community payback order for two years with the condition he complete 200 hours unpaid work within nine months.

He also received a restriction of liberty order and was fitted with a tag for three months, meaning he has to stay at home between the hours of 7pm and 7am each day.

Back in March education bosses at Falkirk Council gave the go ahead to place a full-time police officer in all eight secondary schools in the Falkirk area.

This made it the first local authority in Scotland to have campus police officers in every one of its secondary schools.

Denny High School has reported great success with its school-based police officer initiative, which began in 2009.

Head teacher Stephen Miller said: “Many pupils have considered joining the police themselves after seeing what a positive role model a police officer can be.

“We have also seen a 30 per cent reduction in youth disorder in the local community.”

Falkirk Council has not responded to requests for a comment.

Justice Secretary visits school

Larbert High School hosted the Scottish justice minister and the man in charge of Police Scotland just before the end of last term.

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson was joined by chief constable Phil Gormley and Larbert High pupils at the launch of the first ever public consultation on Police Scotland priorities.

The school’s campus police officer Alan Imrie, the man who arrested the drug dealing pupil back in January, was also present at the event.

Along with the justice minister and the chief constable, he heard from youngsters about their feelings on the police and the opportunities to study policing in detail in the school’s new HNC course on Police Studies.

Along with Graeme High School, Larbert was the first in Scotland to pilot the new course, which has been designed to give candidates an understanding of the issues that are relevant to a policing environment, as well as developing their understanding of the skills and capabilities required to operate in policing.

The course was developed by the police service in an effort to attract a wider range of people to the force, including school leavers and those seeking a career change.

Before this HNC there was no specific college or school based course to address the skills that people needed to join the police. It was also viewed as a way to address the ageing workforce in the Scottish police and create a balance over the full age range of the working population.

The need to attract a diverse age range was an important driving force behind this HNC course since it would allow younger candidates to develop appropriate skills and would keep them engaged with the police service until they were 18, the minimum age for joining the police in Scotland.

Mr Matheson said the pupils he talked to at Larbert High, some of them the same age as the school’s 17-year-old drug dealer, had a keen interest in the police, with many of them looking to join the ranks of the force.