If the school decides to request the services of a drug dog, it is advisable to contact all parties likely to be involved or affected to discuss any future operation in advance of any final decision being made.
Arrange a consultation meeting with the police and other parties to be involved to discuss the questions in the above checklist.
Attendees should include:
- LEA Drugs Education Advisor
- Co-ordinator Youth & Community Service
- Drugs Service
- Young People’s Specialist Substance Misuse Services
- Education Welfare Officer
- South West careers
- Youth Intervention Officer (YIO)
- Youth Offending Team
- Pastoral Committee
- Governor with lead responsibility for drug issues
- Other relevant agencies
A clear action plan and evaluation criteria should be established by everyone involved. The five key issues to address are:
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]1. Has a consultation meeting been arranged with all relevant parties?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]2. Who else will be involved? [br] (See above list) [/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]3. Have the issues raised in the checklist been discussed with these partners?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]4. Do these partners agree with the need for this type of operation? [br] If some object this may adversely affect the public perception of any operation, and could lead to negative publicity. If the Police and LEA object you may have difficulty resourcing this sort of operation.[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]5. Is the Chair/Board of Governors aware of the proposed operation? [br] Discuss plans at an early stage with the Chair/Board of Governors. If after considering the previous sections you still wish to request the presence of a drug dog in an enforcement capacity, please contact your local Neighbourhood Beat Manager, or YIO who will consult with the Drug Dog handlers.[/box]
Involvement of sniffer dogs at the request of the headteacher
Where a school believes that there is reasonable evidence of possession or supply of suspected illegal drugs they should consult their local police. The advice from ACPO is that local police, if they are to respond with the use of sniffer dogs, should do so as part of a warrant led operation, unless evidence may be lost by delaying the search. However, schools considering sniffer dog searches without the authority of a Police warrant should exercise extreme caution before doing so.
Source: Drugs: Guidance for Schools, DfES/0092/2004
The Police and other partner agencies will want to ensure that you have considered the following, when planning any operation involving a drug dog.
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]1. What are the school’s aims and objectives for the operation? [br] This will provide a clear purpose, set boundaries and provide criteria for success necessary in the evaluation process.[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]2. Which age group will you focus on for the operation? [br] There are certain levels of information and evidence that may be required by agencies such as the Police. Any operation should be intelligence led, namely through information and evidence and not rumour. Consideration should also be given to substance use by all age groups and staff. [/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]3. What are the implications for all pupils, parents/carers, school staff, visitors to the school, and school ethos?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]4. How will parents, young people and others gain information about the operation? [br] Prepare a letter to be sent before the event to the ‘whole school’ – student’s parent/carers staff explaining the operation. This reduces the scope for misinformation and sensationalism. Be aware that not all students and parents/carers will be supportive towards this method of operation. It is important that clear information and explanations are given out. DFES Guidelines state that parents and carers should have given their consent (usually in writing) and have the right to opt out of the operation and should be given the opportunity to do so. This is an important human rights issue.
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]5. Have you arranged an Open Evening? [br] Offer parents/carers the opportunity to attend an open evening to discuss drug issues. If arranged before the operation, this can be an opportunity to reassure parent/carers, seek their support and provide helpful education to them. An open evening after the operation is an opportunity to deal with any issues that have arisen e.g. negative media coverage, and to raise awareness of substance use issues.[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]6. Have you considered the location(s) for the operation? [br] Consideration should be given to the appropriate location and timing of the search. With evidence or justification such as pro-active dog indication or screening device indication, background searches may take place throughout the school. The Police can only search if there is evidence or justification. There are issues around ownership and responsibility for lockers, desks, and shared areas etc. i.e. Who owns it? Whose responsibility is it? What about private possessions?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]7. Agree what the terms and conditions are for confidentiality; who should be informed about the operation prior to it taking place i.e.-teaching staff, etc. [br] Confidentiality must be reinforced at this stage. The briefing informs school staff about the operation. The need for Staff support, sensitivity and co-operation are essential. However, see above point 4 and DfES Guidelines regarding parental/pupil consent. If they are not informed they are not able to withdraw consent.[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]8. How will you brief all school teaching staff immediately prior to the operational activity taking place?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]9. How will issues of confidentiality be dealt with relating to staff and pupils?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]10. How will you preserve the pupil’s rights to privacy? [br] Young people must be given the opportunity to declare their fear and be treated fairly. Legal issues about student safety must be considered in relation to animals on school premises. Some young people may be allergic to dogs. This can result in anything from irritation to severe asthma attack. The use of dogs may also be culturally insensitive – for example, dogs are considered unclean in Muslim & Buddhist cultures.[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]11. How will you support young people who may be afraid of or allergic to the Drugs Dogs and also take cultural issues into account? [br] There are many implications of being indicated and searched, including the likely labelling/stigmatising of pupils, whether a positive or negative search. A drug dog/drug detection device is unlikely to indicate medication, however students receiving medication must also have their rights to privacy upheld. There are many sensitive issues connected to this. Care must be taken not to “disadvantage” young people who are receiving prescribed medication. Staff may not be aware of who within their schools is taking or in possession of medication. There are “Human Rights” issues associated with this and parent/carers may be sensitive to protecting their child’s rights and feelings. Any checking by a dog may need to occur in a private area so that no other pupils witness any positive or negative indication.[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]12. Do you understand search procedures? [br] Inevitably some young people or adults may be identified with drugs, by the drug dog/drug detection device or intelligence gathering. This may result in grounds for a Police search. See above re stigmatisation. Is there a private search area? How will you ensure that other pupils’ visitors or staff are not aware of who is being searched in case of a negative indication?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]13. Within the Police operation there is a risk that some individuals may be found in possession of an illegal substance. Is your school clear about what actions will be taken in the case of pupils, staff or visitors being found in possession of drugs? [br] Does your school have a clear incident management policy that gives a range of interventions according to the pupil and all circumstances? Have you consulted the protocol document – ‘Police Response to Substance Misuse Incidents in Schools – (Revised October 2004)’?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]14. Is the school clear about what actions will be taken in the case of pupils, staff or visitors being subject to allegations such as drug possession by other pupils, parents, staff, other agencies, etc.? [/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]15. How and when will you inform parents of Police searches on individuals? [br] It is advisable that the school informs the parents/carers of any individual young person being searched by the Police. This reduces misinformation and anxieties. Who will act in loco parentis in the event of a search. It is not appropriate for a teacher who may also be subjected to the same search, or who was part of the planning operation for the event, to then be in loco parentis?[/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]16. Will there be a press statement? [br] Have you a plan in place to deal with potential media interest? Contact should be made with the Press Office: 01392 452200 [/box]
[box size=”large” style=”rounded”]17. Are you satisfied that a coherent and comprehensive plan of action is in place and understood by all? [/box]