Drug incidents in Illawarra schools skyrocket, crime data shows

The Illawarra recorded an increase of more than 40 per cent in drugs found on students, from 16 to 23 incidents.
The Illawarra recorded an increase of more than 40 per cent in drugs found on students, from 16 to 23 incidents.

Incidents of drugs found in schools have increased by 43 per cent in the Illawarra in one year, with drug discoveries across the state’s schools spiking to an 11-year high.

According to the latest NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), 377 drug-related incidents involving police occurred on school grounds, with nine out of 10 occurring in school hours. 

The Shoalhaven area was responsible for the highest number of incidents in the state, with 27 recorded last year. 

The Department of Education responded to the figures by saying not all incidents occurred in school hours or with school students because the BOCSAR data merely captured the location of the offence as a school.

However, the  Department of Education’s student incident reports mirror crime statistics, showing a 70 per cent rise in drug incidents during school hours in 12 months.

The Illawarra recorded an increase of  more than  40 per cent in drugs found on students, from 16 to 23 incidents. 

In 2013-14, 258 drug incidents were recorded by teachers statewide compared  with  152 the previous year.

Reports of drugs in Illawarra region schools have increased  more than  600 per cent in the  past decade, with three incidents of students found with drugs in 2005-06 compared  with  23 in 2013-14. 

In one incident, police discovered illicit drugs and a smoking device on a student after being called to subdue a physical altercation between the student and their mother. The school was placed into lockdown while the student was restrained. 

On another occasion, a deputy principal and a fellow teacher found five students in nearby bushland chopping an unnamed illegal substance in preparation to smoke it.

The deputy principal confiscated the substance before handing it over to local police. 

Other incidents often revolved around students being caught by staff smoking illegal substances, with students referred to the school liaison police officer on most occasions. 

The Department of Education said  any involvement with illegal drugs was not tolerated and the vast majority of schools had reported no incidents. 

A spokesman would not say whether the department would respond to the drug stat spike, saying it already had a drugs-in-school policy in place.