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Weapons in Schools (1409A/23)


I would like, since the start of 2021 up to now:

A full list of schools where possession of knives and firearms (including imitation firearms and air guns) have been reported.

I would like data to include: the name of each school and the city/town/borough it is in; how many knives or firearms were reported at each school; details on types of knives/firearms (where possible); the age of the child who possessed the knife or firearm.


Our data are not organised in such a way as to allow us to provide this information within the appropriate (cost) limit under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Although we have a location marker for ‘school’ on our crime recording database, location markers are used to denote a variety of circumstances which would include offences that occurred at a school, offences that occurred close to a school, and offences that were reported to a school but actually occurred somewhere else. This is because we are unable to provide information specifically for those that occurred at a school without a manual review of records. Location markers are also not a mandatory recording field and are therefore reliant on the officer recording to input this field accordingly. To conduct such a search, however, would exceed the appropriate limit (FOIA, s.12).

This means that the cost of providing you with the information is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond i.e. the cost of locating and retrieving the information exceeds the ‘appropriate level’ as stated in the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a Refusal Notice for this part of the request and if one part of a request exceeds the fees limit then S12 of the Act applies to the whole request.

However, in accordance with Section 16 of the Act I have a duty to provide advice and assistance in relation to your request and can provide information for the period 2021 up to 19th September 2023, where a weapons marker has been applied to a record and where the location marker specifies ‘school’, broken down by type of weapon, age of suspect and Local Policing Area. Please find this information attached (1409A_Attachment). Please be advised that in relation to the name of the school, this information would not be available under FOI as exemptions would apply (i.e. Section 30 – Investigations and Section 40 – Personal information). Schools accommodate a specific set and number of individuals, therefore to provide this detail (especially in conjunction with other requested details) would present a risk of identifying an individual.

This should not be taken as a precedent that additional information would be supplied outside of the time/fees legislation for any subsequent requests.

Further information on section 12 of FOI is available here:

Please note that these data should be interpreted with caution. Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from a number of data sources used by forces for police purposes. The detail collected to respond specifically to your request is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when interpreting those data.

The figures provided therefore are our best interpretation of relevance of data to your request, but you should be aware that the collation of figures for ad hoc requests may have limitations and this should be taken into account when those data are used.

If you decide to write an article / use the enclosed data we would ask you to take into consideration the factors highlighted in this document so as to not mislead members of the public or official bodies, or misrepresent the relevance of the whole or any part of this disclosed material.