Michelle Ballantyne, Scottish Conservative early years spokeswoman
(c) The Southern Reporter
Yesterday, the Scotsman headlined with:
‘Scots teachers pressured to cover up knife incidents’
and followed up with:
‘A Johnston Press knife crime investigation revealed ten pupils across Scotland are found with knives on school premises every month.’
First, the headline is a straightforward lie, exposed in the article itself as, toward the end of the piece, we read:
‘A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Knife possession is a crime therefore all teachers should report any incidents [my underlining] where pupils are found with a knife at school.’
So, there is no government pressure on schools to cover-up knife crime.
Second, the above Johnston Press investigation was a UK-wide survey and reported with only one mention of a serious knife crime in a Scottish school, in 2015! There is no mention of the ‘ten pupils across Scotland’ in the published report:
Notably, the ‘investigation’ only seems to have been reported in England. See:
There is of course, no indication of the scale or scope of the investigation. Indeed, absolutely no mention of the methods used is given at all.
The idea that teachers are being pressurised comes from an anecdotal comment by Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association who, curiously, tells us that ‘some’ headteachers are pressurising staff to keep quiet and that:
“We are dealing with over half a dozen cases a year of teachers coming to us and saying ‘we should have been told’”
It’s not clear how his ‘over half a dozen [7?] cases a year’ and the Johnston Press investigation’s ‘ten pupils every month’ relate until we remember that the latter is probably based on English schools’ data.
Much of the rest of the report is given over to the one serious case at Cults Academy in 2015 and to Michelle Ballantyne, Scottish Conservative early years spokeswoman. Here’s an extract from her comments:
‘The SNP claims it’s tackling knife crime and violence in schools, but then we find out advice is being issued to keep incidents of knives in school secret. Parents will be horrified reputation is considered more important than pupil and teacher safety. This is not the way to address a serious problem and will just undermine confidence that effective steps are being taken to provide a safe environment for our children.’
Right at the end and sort of making all that preceded pointless, Police Scotland report, based on actual policy and evidence:
‘Our decision to specifically record offences of possession of weapons in schools supports efforts to make Scotland’s schools safer. We continue to work with schools and local authorities on anti-violence campaigns and curriculum programmes on a range of initiatives. There has been a 64 per cent reduction in crimes of handling offensive weapons in the last decade and we are determined to continue making progress.’
For a more accurate and contextualised account of the situation in Scotland, with diminishing possession and use of knives, see:
They might as well re-title the Scotsman as the ‘Unionist Scotsman’ or the ‘Fake Scotsman’.