Peyto Law

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Planning Law Solicitors

Powers to search pupils and students

September 2nd, 2010 by Louise Humphreys

Posted In: Education

Tags: schools, search, pupils

With the new school term just around the corner, this is an opportune moment to remind parents of the widened powers of schools and colleges to search students for prohibited items.

From 1 September 2010, under the provisions of Part 11 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, members of staff of schools and colleges in England and Wales who have reasonable grounds for suspecting that a pupil has a prohibited item with them or in their possession may carry out a search for that item.

A prohibited item is defined in the Act as being a knife or blade; an offensive weapon; alcohol; controlled drugs; stolen articles or any other article which may be specified in regulations.

The member of staff must either be the head teacher or a member of staff authorised by the head teacher to carry out the search.

The member of staff must be of the same sex as the pupil or student and must carry out the search only in the presence of another member of staff (ensuring that that person is of the same sex as the pupil or student if that is reasonably practicable).

The search must take place either on the premises of the school or college or elsewhere provided the member of staff has lawful control or charge of the pupil or student.

The member of staff can use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances but may not require the pupil or student to remove any clothing other than outer clothing.

The member of staff can seize anything they reasonably suspect is a prohibited item or is evidence in relation to an offence. The Act also covers what the school or college may do with any items seized.