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Operation Fountain - November 2019

Nothing to Declare?

Earlier this month we worked with our local police constabulary on something called Operation Fountain – an ambitious project to raise awareness with young people across the borough about the dangers of drug and knife crime.  It involved enabling about 8 officers to come into school and searching each student using a manual search, a metal detector and walking past a sniffer dog that could detect drugs on them.  Our 1150 students were unaware this was going to happen and waited patiently in line as our staff and officers calmly searched each of their bags and they walked past the dog.

It made for a very interesting morning and answered a few questions and issues for our school:

  • We had nothing to declare – no drugs were detected and no knives were found which was of course encouraging for the school.  We had staff and officers patrolling outside school to check for students dropping items or leaving the site which ensured everything was dealt with thoroughly.  However, we know that we need to stay vigilant and that while this was a powerful exercise, it cannot cover everything on the day-to-day aspect of these concerns.
  • The police were superb – a large part of the benefit was the opportunity for them to meet young people across the borough in a positive, non-threatening way and open dialogue about this crucial issue.  There is such a high profile about these topics in media at the moment and initiatives such as this go a huge way to enabling the police to engage with young people on the issue.
  • It gave a positive message to students, parents and staff – another key element was the reinforcement that school is a safe place and there are deterrents in place to dissuade children from bringing things to school that they shouldn’t.  We will do this again, at another time that is unpublished and students know this.
  • We will do lots of follow up – this operation did not happen in isolation.  We cover knife crime and drug use in our PSHCE lessons anyway and had a specific set of lessons that followed up on the initiative that day.  Our community police officer spent the day in lessons speaking to students and answering their questions.

All schools strive to be a safe place where children can come to learn; about the society within which they are growing up, and also in a place of safety from some of the issues they may face outside of school.  We are passionate about the need for children to be able to contribute to the world now, as well as when they have gained their qualifications and move on from the school.  We will continue to teach them in engaging lessons and also practical ways about the challenges that society poses, and we will keep vigilant to ensure that the school is a safe environment for all.  Nothing to declare this time, but we are not complacent…

Mike Boddington

November 2019