back to article Smith says answer to knife crime is through the arch window

The Home Secretary will announce plans next month for the installation of metal detectors at school gates in her effort to stop kids stabbing one another. Jacqui Smith outlined the plans to The Observer over the weekend, saying search arches would be put in place at the country’s toughest secondary schools. Smith appears to …


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  1. jimbarter


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    fail - what about ceramic knives?

  3. Toby Rose

    What's next?

    A company, (read Director/Shareholder), stands to make a fortune in albeit temporary sales in their particular brand of metal detector. I bet the CCTV manufacturer, sunning himself on his desert island, from a massive sale a couple of years back is expecting a new neighbour.

    Children are impressionable and will lap up this 'security' meaning less people to complain about all this intrusion.

  4. EvilFairy

    "and to stop younger children becoming familiar with knives in the first place"

    what will they cut their food with?

  5. peter

    The above link is to a ceramic kitchen blade

  6. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Door, horse, bolted.

    If you have got to the stage that your school is so full of violent little shits that you *need* to introduce metal detectors then you failed a long time ago.

  7. Anigel
    Black Helicopters

    Smiths iq <= School leavers age

    With so many non metallic blades around the stab fest will continue unabated, just make it much harder to find and fragments left inside the victim as they are looking for glass or ceramic instead of xray opaque metal.

    Now forgive me if I am wrong but out of the spate of knife crime we have seen amongst schoolage children in London I believe the stabbings all took place outside of school and not inside of the wonderfully expensive, intrusive and queue forming school gates.

    BTW how many friends, relatives and shares does smitty have in companies proving the research and equipment to stop children getting into school on time.

  8. kempsy
    Thumb Down

    completely completely pointless

    Why take your knife into school through a detector when you could just get it passed through the fence into the playground or through a window into the school itself?

    Short of turning schools into prisons this measure willl most likely have little action on actually preventing knife crime in schools, except from catching some of the more stupid thugs that carry them.

    All in all a typical knee-jerk reaction showing something is being done even when it has all the effectiveness of a chocolate fireguard.

  9. Mad Mike
    Paris Hilton

    Simple solutions for simple people

    Again, the home secretary is showing she is a simpleton. If people want a weapon, they'll always get one. Even if it worked in taking knifes out, they'll simply use something else. You need to take away the want rather than the weapon. It's simply a public relations exercise to try and make out they're doing something and to buy some voter support.

    I'm using the Paris icon as Paris is probably the nearest (albeit higher) IQ to Jacqui Smiths and the rest of our government ministers.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "and to stop younger children becoming familiar with knives in the first place"

    "what will they cut their food with?"

    You don't need cutlery at McDonalds!

  11. Damian Gabriel Moran

    metal detectors....

    and a state of the art detention centre where students are held in place with magentic boots

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Nice one....

    who's going to disarm the thug that triggers the alarm?

    Also, as it's to tackle knife crime, will they return the AK-47 once they pass through the detector?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    used these once, got told off...

    I was "Arch trained" when a "special" (yes, also the affectionate term for those with educational "needs", but that's a bit unfair on some of my erstwhile colleagues) about ten years ago in order to boost the number in operation at public events. Searching people going to the VIP area of a State Ceremonial, I was rather thorough and located a knife concealed in a belt buckel and a section 1 firearm (allright it was a mini CS gas canister, but the technically correct firearm definition sounds better...) at the bottom of a rucksack as well as other things you wouldnt take to a family event, not unless you felt unsafe on the streets of London... (see current news).

    All of these were carried by relatively innocent tourists who didn't realise they were illegal in the UK. I was told off by the TSG sergeant overseeing us as I was holding things up as far as getting people in was concerned, whereupon I promptly declined to take further responsibility for the arch, arrested a tourist with a knife and walked him back to Charing X to document it, confiscate it and caution him before sending him to the back of the queue. It takes time to search a person properly based on the indications of potential that an Arch gives (top half/bottom half/both) and if there is any kind of fasion for steel capped/shanked boots, then after a few days, people will just be waved through on the nod and shivs in socks will get through. Either that or classes will be populated just in time for lunch.

    It also doesn't deal with the fact that once an item gets past security (if it isn't already there), it can be left concealed somewhere suitable and remains available in the "safe" environment

  14. Steve Browne

    No ID card ?

    Has the ID card failed us here?

    I thought the Home Office idea of loading up our pockets with all sorts of junk was so we couldn't carry knives in the first place as we would have nowhere to put them.

    Another shot of Gordon's tax and spend approach to public services too.

  15. Steve

    @ Toby Rose

    "Children are impressionable and will lap up this 'security' meaning less people to complain about all this intrusion."

    Bullshit! When was the last time you met any children?

    The kids who've never carried a knife and will never have any intention of carrying one will probably just go along with it with some of the older kids kicking up a stick about being treated like criminals. The kids who are determined to carry a knife will simply pass it through the fence or toss it over the school wall.

    You'll also get a significant number of kids who will go out of their way to set of the detectors with as many innocuous objects as possible - which would be my chosen route of attack.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cancel the ASBOs, Kill the killjoys.

    Start by removing ASBOs, it should be perfectly OK for teens to congregate or look scary, teens are scary to old people, get over it!

    Remove all the discretionary police 'area exclusion' orders. There are no public areas out of bounds to the public. We have no second class citizens without a judicial process.

    Stop with this obsessive CCTV. People don't even window shop at night on CCTV monitored streets for fear of being seen as a vandal/lout. Which idiot put the speakers on them? He should have a web camera fitted in his living room so we can all gawp at him.

    Stop with the endless 'sparklers are killers' safety drivel. How many bonfire nights were cancelled over safety fears? The one UK event you have and it was cancelled!

    Kill 'No win no fee', if you feel strongly enough to sue, you should feel strongly enough to lose something if you fail. Kill the BS lawsuits that people fear will bankrupt them.

    More things to do, free music festivals in town squares, buskers, fire jugglers, community art projects, mountain climbing, geo caching, community walks, rubber duck races, night cycling, balloon festivals, street break dancing with boom boxes, ...stuff! Heck if they like racing cars and shouting, close a quiet road and let them have drag races and car shows! I go to events here, and there's music and dancing and beer in town squares. Stuck for ideas? Try asking people for ideas.

    Why do you need council permission for events? By default it should be allowed unless THEY can show it is a danger to others. This means that B&Q should be able to host drive in movies on their car parks without permissions, Tescos should be able to have sausage day festivals selling sausages and beer to pull in punters if they wish. If there's a river, why can't I rent a canoe? How many morons will call the police if I jump in and swim (hey what if a current gets me and drags me near the sparkler factory danger danger!!).

    Keep ON the grass, lay a mat down in your local manicured park and have a picnic. Why not? Is the park there for the people's benefit or for the gardener benefit?! Have a beer too! Since when has drinking in public been so bad that it's outright banned in parks?

    You can sit inside in the UK, you can go out, but only if you keep moving so as not to congregate, and don't look suspicious so as not to get stopped. You can go to a bar and drink, but only if you're 18, and most bars won't have a license for any entertainment, so all you can is sit and drink. What kind of a life is this? A sh*t one, that's what.

    Kill the killjoys.

  17. adam

    errr.... am i missing the point here?

    So the gates have a metal detector for the school children. If I remember school correctly it lacked the 30ft high walls of a prison . I'm assuming that a knife could be thrown into an unsecured part of the grounds and retreived by the student / killer at his / her convenience. This policy was clearly designed by idiots for idiots.

  18. Michael Jolly

    Bolted and blue

    Eponymous Cowherd i agree if it that bad already well its a nice waste of cash that will make it look like .Gov is doing something

  19. G R Goslin


    looking back many years, I recollect that the favourite weapon, particularly with girls, was a handled plastic comb, with the handle shaved down to a sharp point. A knife does'nt have to cut, a hole poked in someone is just as effective.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    of course if someone is determined to get a knife through they will be able to, but it should dissuade people from carrying knives routinely, at least until school is over.

    What happens if it goes off though? Are they going to keep a security guard stood nearby with a tazer? And I seem to remember I often carried a lot of metallic stuff around at school - ring binders, compass, ruler, etc - how many false triggers are the expecting and the bag searches after it goes off (once they have recovered from the tazering of course) will cause massive delays going in and out of school.

  21. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Other metallic objects

    "There was no indication how the scheme will deal with other pointy metallic objects carried by some school children – pens, compasses, rulers and the like."

    Well if schools provided such stuff on-site rather than expecting parents to fork out for it there wouldn't be a problem would there. But no, it's easier to make the parents "responsible" for equipping their children and then wonder why middle class kids out-perform their impoverished peers.

    All the same, I can't help feeling that the Eponymous Cowherd has hit the head on the nail. (Or something.)

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Typical ineffectual crap

    Most schools have such a large perimeter that metal detectors are going to be ineffectual. Just go up to the school boundary during break and pass a knife through the railings. Duh!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    School security check queues are a terrorist target...

    Just trying to put the legislators into a paralysing paradox loop.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Ceramic/stealth knives

    have been on the banned list for a while. (exeptions: chef on way to/from work, obvious picnic implements)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digg - Student arrested for cutting food with knife

    This story was linked from Digg under the title "Student arrested for cutting food with knife". It seems that this American 10-year-old was spotted in the dinning hall using a knife to cut her food, and dragged off to a "Juvenile Assessment Center".

  26. PaddyR

    I seem to recall

    when i was at school we had these really pointy things...what were they called again, oh yes pencils and pens, are crayons the norm now, although you could get one straight out the crayola box with a dangerous pointy end on it

  27. Mike Smith

    Re: Cancel the ASBOs, Kill the killjoys.

    AC, couldn't agree more. You left out only one thing - the tiny minority of sociopathic rubbish that insists on spoiling things for everyone else are hung out to dry when convicted. If they're under 18, their parents are fined to hell and back, reducing them to poverty if need be. Fines to reflect the cost to society. Nicked and torched someone's £25,000 car? Fine works out at £25K, plus legal costs, plus police time, plus fire brigade time, plus recovery, plus cleaning up afterwards, plus compensation for victim's losses. If that puts them or their parents in poverty, tough titty. If they can't pay, that's a LOT of community service costed at minimum wage.

    Shout "unfair!" all you like. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Treat kids like criminals...

    If you treat kids like criminals, showing them absolutely no respect or trust, don't be surprised when they start acting like criminals. Putting in metal detectors is basically saying "we think you are knife wielding criminals".

    Maybe a better approach would be to try and cure the causes of this type of crime, rather than trying to make it harder. Making it difficult to get knives in to schools won't stop people carrying them outside of school.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ceramic knives are rubbish, kids don't use them

    You lot have obviously never tried to do anything with a ceramic knife. Drop it and it shatters. Kids don't have the money to buy a new one of them everyday.

  30. N1AK


    Thanks Kempsy for saying what I was thinking: "Why take your knife into school through a detector when you could just get it passed through the fence into the playground or through a window into the school itself?"

    I find it incredible that when we can't stop people having phones and knives in prisons, with regulation clothing, cell searches, metal detectors and wardens somebody thought they could and should fit detectors on school gates and expect them to work!

    Add to that the fact that as in school knife attacks are a rare exception, and it's throwing good money at a bad solution to the wrong problem. Which I suppose is our Goverments normal course of action as shown by Northern Rock.

    @AC: Kill the killjoys, amen to almost all of that.

    Except NWNF (No Win No Fee), lawyers only take on NWNF when someone is clearly guilty (as they only get paid if they win). I hate NWNF because it exploits the poor, but chances are if you can get represented by a lawyer NWNF you should win & you would of been better off sueing them with a proper lawyer who wont take a massive share of the settlement.

  31. Dennis

    obviously none of you went to a school with "arches"

    I went to an American inner-city public high school with gang problems (after something called "forced busing" was enforced). I left the inner-city soon after graduation (1998). Yes, the gang members could have thrown their guns, knives, etc. over the wall and through the fence, etc. After the metal detectors were installed, though, the police officers at the school did not have to deal with nearly as much hallway violence. It was noticeably safer for me to be in school, and the detectors never went off on me despite my school gear. Yes, things still happened, but most of the goons obviously kept their violence away from the school at that point.

    Anyone who wants to attest to why this happened is, of course, speaking off of opinion and not fact. Of course, that does not seem to stop people from doing so. Perhaps the trouble makers decided there were better places to fight and oppress? Maybe the real effect of the detectors was deterrence, which is based more on psychology than "stopping power".

    I suspect the British authorities looked at the "success" of American school metal detectors for the idea, or for an example. As an American, I am embarrassed that measures such as metal detectors must be used. Perhaps people should stop being angry about how effective the metal detectors could or could not be, and start being embarrassed at how bad things have gotten. The real problem in both countries, after all, is not the detector.

  32. Glenn Amspaugh

    What about books?

    In 7th grade, I broke a kid's arm with a paperback copy of The Silmarillion. Kid had been picking on me for months, and, on this occasion, was holding on to a railing while shaking me by the shirt front. A quick smash down with the spine of the book onto his arm, near the wrist and he let go. Didn't find out until the next day he'd cracked something in there and I had detention. Nothing like a working class school for real life learning.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It doesn't happen _IN_ school though does it?

    ...most of the young-people-go-stabbing stories that have appeared in the press are outside school, so, um, this wouldn't work.

    Better to have the detector somewhere more public and you can have an excuse to search anyone any time. A shopping centre perhaps.

  34. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    Somebody please tell me just why, given a choice, everybody in this Govt immediately chooses the most unworkable but also the most expensive "solution", preferably also involving electronics or software industry?

    Havn't they already got enough kickbacks to just relax and take it easy or are those cabinet reshuffles designed to rotate the people, so that everybody gets a fair and equal chance of earning few favours with that particular industry?

    As for JS - she reminds me that woman from the last Harry Potter movie. The one that was sent by the magical Minister to run the school (what was her name again?). Hope JS' tenure at her current post will finish in a similar fashion...

  35. Steven Guenther
    Jobs Horns

    open source option

    Add cameras to watch via the internet so helpful strangers can assist the cops.

    Get some of those new back-scatter x-ray machines too.

    Then we ca all watch the little girls go into school from home.

    You could get lots of volunteers from NAMBLA.

    Its a shame you can't actually punish the guilty, you have to live with them.

    It is the innocent society seems to always punish.

  36. Boris H.

    Just waiting outside

    Now all the bad guys need to do is wait outside the school because they know that people coming out sure as hell dont have any knives/guns.

  37. call me scruffy

    Do ya not know the stink of bullshit when ye smell it?

    For F*cks sake it's just a silly season policy, It's useless, as leaky as a sieve and has the superficial air of "pro-action".

    It's like to opt-out organ donations idea, It'll get loads of media attention and everyone will think "Wow, Gordon's government is really trying things." Nothing will come of it, at least nothing good, but it's nice and high profile.

    Typically a government only gets one "Falklands" moment, Nu Lab has had waaaaaaaaaay more than it's fair share; Kosovo, Bristol Hearts, Foot and Mouth, Hearts&Minds, The WTC attacks, "It was all the BBC's Fault", The Olympic Bid, The London Underground attacks, and they can't really survive without the distractions and PR oportunities.

    The Newlove murder in Warrington was an oportunity for Gordon and co to show their strength... except they don't have any.

  38. call me scruffy
    Thumb Up

    @Roger de Laborde

    Re: Whipping post...

    Now that's what I call a plan!

    Let's see if the little f*ckers cherish massive bruising and strained joints as much as they do their ASBO's. "Cor, Trev couldn't walk for a week after he got caught torching that mowtah,what a geezer innit!"

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Weeping song

    Yes, you all say your government is bad, stupid, wrong or plain evil... But why in the world are you letting them govern your society?!

    Don't tell me that only fat, old, stupid people are willing and able to run your country!

    Because if you say so, then you have no right to complain... at all.

    Alien icon - for you probably think only aliens would write what I just wrote.

  40. Morely Dotes
    Black Helicopters

    Re: School security check queues are a terrorist target...

    Actually, that's a valid point. *If* I were a terrorist, a queue of school children would be a prime target for an attack.

  41. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    The Problem is

    The problem is that every new Home Secretary wants to put their own non existent stamp of the unreal on the job so hence a lot sabre rattling and breast beating so as to speak and the writers truly summed it up rather neatly and very succinctly in the old BBC eighties comedy with Sir Humphrey and Jim Hacker in Yes Minister/Prime Minister !

    The trash emerging from the current Home Ministers mouth is almost identical to the words Jim Hacker used so long ago in another century in order to be seen to be doing something when in reality doing absolutely nothing of any importance or consequence until Treasury gives the nod at some indeterminate point in the future !

    Note very carefully how she avoids the word how much it will cost at all costs and is fully aware Treasury is the final arbiter of her self wanking wowser style schemes !

    Due to the current very weak state of the entire UK military drastically undermanned and very poorly funded since 1982 (UK Navy never really recovered from those war losses) all her schemes and events due post 2012 events to come nothing will come of it as they lay unwanted in the universal treasury circular file of things not to do !

    How sad it is just another female clone version of the fictional character of Jim Hacker when all is said and done !

    Perhaps she should hire Paris as her new specialist consultant and things may get done ?

    But since Treasury has the final say not much hope for any of them survive in that hostile environment !

  42. Paul Murray

    Equality before the law

    "Nicked and torched someone's £25,000 car? Fine works out at £25K"

    Whatever hapenned to equality before the law? Torch a poor man's car, you get a 3k fine. Torch a rich man's car, and your life is over. The penalty should be same, and if people insist on driving expensive vanitymobiles on public roads, then the fine for accidental parking dings should be no different to the fine for dinging average family transport.


    As for thugs in schools - regrettably, schools serve two purposes, and one of them is keeping children off the streets and out from underfoot of the adult poulation. This means that decent normal people being educated in preparation for a useful life must, during those few years, spend time with young criminals. The law will not protect you from being criminally preyed upon by your peers when you are a teenager.

    Chuck the criminals into a snakepit.

  43. kain preacher


    I've watch a man get stabbed with a pencil 12 times. Going take away pencils ???

  44. night troll

    It's all about money...

    1. As the article said, it's cheaper than putting more police on the streets to enforce existing laws.

    2. It sets the MPs up for the future with well paid jobs when they get kicked out at the next election (we hope) with the firms they have given tax income to for expensive equipment, IT etc. See TB and his part-time banking job for example.

    3. The little darlings that will be policed by this will think it's great setting it off 50 - 60 times a day with all the metalic junk they can find to take into school, until the teachers finally turn it off so some work can be done.

    My son's school does not have a "gate" and the school is open at the back to fields, so what will they do in this type of situation? Razor wire fence around the school? More money for the security company running it.

    All in all a complete and utter fuck up without any thought of how to impliment it or how it will work. The only thought that has gone into this is, which company is next due to have their snout in the trough and how much can we get away with bunging them before anyone notices or kicks up a stink.

    F*ing politicians, the world would be a better place if they were all put against the wall and shot. Never mind "come the revolution" do it NOW!!!!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Do you realize what damage

    having no politicians would do to our society , right none at all. We used to cut and stab each other with anything sharp we could find including knives, broken glass, sharp rocks if you were a punk you ran off no one ever died in fact I don't recall any serious injuries it's over blown. Is it stupid yeah sure it's why you don't give swords and guns to kids but little knives please with today's little butter balls a small knife couldn't reach a vital organ and it's good exercise avoiding being cut.

  46. Chris Hall

    Government got you down?

    Guns are outlawed, knives are outlawed, stabbing someone is against the law....obviously, at some point people are going to have to realize their government isnt going to protect them...all it is doing is disarming you and making you all a bunch of sheep for the wolves to move in on. Keep asking the police, metal detectors, laws, and whatever else you can think of to step in and fix a problem that has existed as long as man has been on the planet ....and all it is going to get you is robbed, raped, taxed, and humiliated.

    Good luck with that perfect society you have over there across the pond- I will instead rely on myself for protection and try to use common sense in not going where the criminals hang out.

  47. Spleen


    "Yes, you all say your government is bad, stupid, wrong or plain evil... But why in the world are you letting them govern your society?!

    Don't tell me that only fat, old, stupid people are willing and able to run your country!"

    Intelligent, passionate, dynamic people (width and age is really neither here nor there) become businessmen, scientists and artists, and frequently a mixture of two or all three. They don't go into government for the very simple reason that there's something they can do that is of benefit to society. We know they're of benefit to society because the free market pays them for it.

    That's why we will never try to replace the crooks, incompetents and system-gaming bureaucrats - we have better things to do, things that fulfill us as people and enrich our souls. As for getting rid of them altogether, unfortunately they're in charge of a large body of armed men who, although they only joined up to protect what they held dear (or possibly to pay for university) will nonetheless shoot you if you try.

  48. Steve

    Re: Government got you down?

    What makes you think we need guns or big knives to scare the government back into line? I don't remember seeing too many AKs being waved about during the poll tax riots.

    Or don't Americans have the balls to get in to fight where they might have to risk getting hurt?

  49. Ross

    The American Way

    Surely we need to take after America? You don't hear about knife crime in American do you? And you know why? They have GUNS! If we were to allow guns to be sold in Asda you'd have none of this malarky with knives.

  50. Ishkandar

    More NuLabour cures for which there is no known disease...

    @EvilFairy - teeth ?? Been done since before the first cavemen discovered stone knives !!

    @Spleen - "As for getting rid of them altogether, unfortunately they're in charge of a large body of armed men who, although they only joined up to protect what they held dear (or possibly to pay for university) will nonetheless shoot you if you try."

    ---You think so ?? Come back, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector !! All is forgiven !!

    @night troll - My God !! A man after my own heart !! Genghis Khan will be proud of you !!

    @Paul Murray - You, sir, are hereby reported to the RSPCA for cruelty to snakes !! What have those snakes done to you to deserve such horrors inflicted upon them ??

    Various comments have stated the obvious, i.e. more meaningless soundbytes from this government. Just bring back the birch and suspended sentences, preferably with recyclable rope !!

    --Kevlar vest, ceramic plate surcoat, mace, solid titanium walking stick ? Right, I'm off !!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I've watch a man get stabbed with a pencil 12 times."

    Don't just stand there counting for gods sake!

  52. ElFatbob

    another eye catching...

    ...headline designed to hide that fact that there is no effective deterrent for criminals (of any age): neither enough police nor effective punishment by the courts.

    Brought about in no small part by the 'loony left' (yes, that's what they were called in the 80's, cos that is what they are ) P.C. liberals (current administration esp.) who insist that we need to 'understand' criminals rather than punish them.

  53. Edward Pearson

    Sorry for the 2x

    But HEAR HEAR! To the Anon Coward whose responsible for "Cancel the ASBOs, Kill the killjoys."

    Inspired stuff, VERY sensible suggestions, and point well made.

    If only a system existed where the most qualified candidate could be put into a position of power to effect change. We can but dream.

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