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'It is better to let one child get stabbed' than install knife arches at every Redbridge school says teacher union rep

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:13 21 March 2019

Redbridge Council plans to give all schools in Redbridge either knife wands or arches. Photo: David Mirzoeff

Redbridge Council plans to give all schools in Redbridge either knife wands or arches. Photo: David Mirzoeff

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Plans to install knife arches and detecting wands at every secondary school in the borough have been slammed by a Redbridge National Union of Teachers representative.

Kash Malik said: “We can’t let the government or council say this is not our problem.

“It sounds awful but we need to leave it to get worse and then the government will have to do something - that’s the reality of it.

“Knife arches are not the answer.

“I have never been in favour of them and schools shouldn’t have to worry about it, it should be an environment where you should be focusing on studying.”

He added: “It is better to have one child stabbed at school than to have an environment where no one is stabbed at school and everyone carries knives outside of school.

“If we create an environment like that in schools then we have a problem in society and we are just patching it up instead of sorting out the cause of why young people feel so insecure and vulnerable.

“Parents, given that argument, would understand it. Knife arches normalise carrying a blade and it is putting a plaster over the problem.”

Mr Malik said he is in favour, however, of giving police more search and stop powers in proximities close to schools.

He said suspects should be stopped regardless of skin colour or religion and people often “over complicate” debates about police searches.

He said bobbies on the beat used to always be visible around drop-off and collection times, but a lot of schools have no uniformed presence which can be an “issue for school in Redbridge with problems”.

Redbridge Council unveiled plans to install knife detecting kits at all secondary schools at an external scrutiny meeting last week.

Speaking to the chamber, Redbridge’s crime partnership manager John Richards said he thinks all 19 secondaries will have them “early next financial year”.

“There was a stigma with some schools that if they take part and use knife arches or wands then they have a problem,” he said.

“But by bringing them to all schools it takes that stigma away.”

MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting added: “I don’t think anyone wants to see knife arches becoming a normalised feature of school life in Britain.

“But given there is a problem, frankly, if it gives young people and teachers and parents the confidence to go to school and feel safe then so be it.”

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