AN investigation into drugs on school premises has found North Yorkshire schools are bucking a national trend of an increase in incidents of illegal drugs being seized from pupils.

More than 2,600 cases involving drugs on school grounds were reported to police in England and Wales between 2016 and 2019, an increase of 27.5 per cent according to data released by police under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.

However, North Yorkshire has seen the number of crimes where drugs were seized at a school remain at under 15 a year over the period, except for 2018, which saw 20 incidents.

The findings come just weeks after North Yorkshire Police warned parents of an increase in availability of so-called edibles – sweets laced with illegal drugs such as cannabis and MDMA.

PC Lauren Green said: “Unregulated sweets like these are dangerous as we don’t know what levels of drugs they contain. They are available to buy on the internet and so could easily be obtained by young people, especially at this time when they are using the internet more than ever due to the coronavirus restrictions.”

In March, staff at Ryedale School said they have taken “appropriate action” after a group of students brought drugs into school, passed them to other students and that a small number had been consumed on the school site.

The most recent Growing Up In North Yorkshire survey by the county council found 11 per cent of pupils in the last year of primary school were ‘fairly sure’ or ‘certain’ they knew someone who uses drugs.

The FoI data showed cannabis was involved in 1,899 incidents, while MDMA and cocaine were among the more popular drugs seized on school premises. Heroin was found in nine cases, with prescription drugs such as Diazepam, Ritalin and Tramadol also discovered.

Possession offences accounted for 1,779 incidents, with 108 supply-related offences and 62 listed as “other”, including drug trafficking.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Most young people do not take drugs, and it is rare for them to be brought on to school premises. However, like much else, trends reflect what is happening more widely, and schools are particularly concerned about the sinister spread of the drugs trade by so-called ‘county lines’ gangs, in which vulnerable young people are coerced into dealing.”

Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for children and young people, said: “There is evidence showing that more children and young people are believed to be using drugs. It is essential for schools and colleges to work in partnership with local officers alongside youth and family support services for support and advice and where required, operational intervention, if a pupil or student is found to have brought drugs into school or college.”