Harder drugs are appearing in South Yorkshire schools

The variety of drugs seized in South Yorkshire schools increased last year, with some Class A drugs beginning to appear.

An FOI request to South Yorkshire Police revealed the Class A drugs Cocaine and LSD were found in 2019, having not been recorded in 2017 or 2018.

SYP reported one incident of possession of Cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in custody, and one incident of possession with intent to supply of LSD, which sees punishments usually range from a community order to 16 years in custody, with a maximum of life imprisonment.

SYP also recorded one incident of supplying or offering to supply a controlled drug involving the party drug MDMA, also a Class A.

MDMA had been found on one occasion within a school in 2018, though that was for possession which is a lesser offence.

According to the UK Sentencing Council, supplying or offering to supply a Class A drug is “a drug trafficking offence” with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. For possession of a Class A drug the maximum punishment is a much smaller seven years.

Cocaine was found in a South Yorkshire school last year.

SYP also recorded an incident of possession of the Class B drug Ketamine, which had not been found in the previous two years.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “Our neighbourhood policing team works closely with local schools, delivering inputs in both primary and secondary schools around a range of issues, including drugs, online safety and knife crime.

“We have dedicated Children and Young Persons Officers (CYPOs) designated to schools and they play a vital role in building links and addressing issues that might arise. They also provide a direct and consistent point of contact for headteachers, members of staff and pupils.”

Though they pointed out overall figures for drugs in schools were still low.

“The number of drug related offences recorded within schools remains extremely low. Where incidents are reported to us, we will always take appropriate and swift action,” they added.

Nuno Albuquerque is Group Treatment Lead at UKAT, a leading alcohol and drug rehabilitation provider in the UK.

He said: “These figures paint a worrying picture as they clearly show that ‘harder’ substances like Ketamine and LSD have unfortunately filtered into South Yorkshire’s schools; and these are only the figures for the kids who got caught.

“Unfortunately school children can be vulnerable and susceptible to experimenting, especially if their friends are doing so. This means that the problem quickly escalates.”

The number of offences recorded by SYP involving possession of Cannabis in schools also rose from 22 in 2018 to 30 in 2019. In 2017 there was only one recorded incident.

Mr Albuquerque said: “The rise in Cannabis possession cases is also worrying, but unsurprising, as there is an underlying tolerance and acceptance of cannabis amongst the younger generation.

“However, this is very misplaced and cannabis is in itself, a dangerously addictive drug,”

Naomi Handley-Ward, who works for Project 3, a Doncaster-based support scheme run by Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), was more positive about the situation.

She said: “We work with young people and their families to educate them on the dangers and issues of drug use and run harm reductions sessions for them. 

“Our referral rate has slightly dropped for substance misuse over the last two years.”

Young people seeking support for drugs and related issues in Doncaster can contact RDaSH on 01302 640032 or email rdashproject3.referrals@nhs.net.

For information on UKAT’s drug awareness and education programme visit: https://www.ukat.co.uk/education-programme/