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Home Office in the media

Home Office in the media blog: Wednesday 13 March

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Today's Home Office stories include further coverage of knife crime.

Knives in schools

There is widespread coverage of a report by Ofsted on knives in schools.

The Mail's coverage states an Ofsted report has revealed that gangs are forcing children to carry knives into school “for the sole purpose” of getting them expelled. The paper says that many schools have a zero-tolerance policy on weapons and anyone caught with a blade is automatically excluded. Ofsted has revealed that once this happens, excluded pupils with no daily routine are groomed for a life of crime.

The Guardian notes that the report shows funding levels for schools are hampering their efforts to prevent knife crime.

The Telegraph and Sun say the report has revealed that schools are failing to educate pupils on knife crime and are removing metal detectors at school gates as they are afraid of “reputational damage”.

A Government spokesperson said:

The issues surrounding knife crime, gang culture and bad behaviour at school are complicated. We should not draw a simple causal link from exclusions to crime.

Any form of violence in a school is completely unacceptable and we have strengthened teachers’ powers so they can take action, including searching pupils, if they suspect a pupil has brought a prohibited item - such as a knife - into school. No headteacher ever takes the decision to exclude a pupil lightly – but it is right that a school has the ability to permanently exclude when that last resort is needed.

Permanent exclusion from school should not mean exclusion from education. Alternative Provision, including Pupil Referral Units, exists to provide an education to young people with more complex problems. The classes are often smaller, with more specialist teaching, and can offer the support and mentoring these troubled children need.

Letter bombs

There is widespread coverage in today’s papers noting that a group calling itself the IRA has claimed responsibility for a series of letter bombs and warned that another has yet to be found.

The Times, Telegraph and Guardian report that the group, which identifies as the IRA but is widely referred to as the New IRA, said that it had sent five devices. Four of them — sent to Glasgow University, Waterloo station and Heathrow and London City airports — were found last week.

According to reports in Irish media, the fifth letter bomb was sent to an army recruitment office, in an echo of a campaign the group carried out in 2014.

A Government spokesperson said:

We are aware of the claims that have been made relating to these packages and Ministers are being kept informed of the progress of the investigations.

These acts were cowardly, reckless and put innocent people in danger.

The police are working hard to identify the perpetrators and have issued clear safety advice, which we would urge people to follow.

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