Setting off students’ fireworks

July 25th, 2012 by Clive Sheldon QC

Members of staff of further education institutions and 16-19 Academies are empowered to search students if they have ‘reasonable grounds for suspecting that a student at the institution may have a prohibited item with him or her or in his or her possessions’: section 85A of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. That Act includes a lengthy description of ‘prohibited items’, which includes knives and blades, an offensive weapon, alcohol, a controlled drug, and a stolen article. If found on a student, these items may be seized.

The Secretary of State has now added to that list of ‘prohibited items’, by making the Further Education Institutions and 16 to 19 Academies (Specification and Disposal of Articles) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1925).
From the next academic year (1st September 2012), staff will be able to search for tobacco and cigarette papers, fireworks and pornographic images, save where the student concerned is aged 18 or over: as adults, the students are permitted to have these items in their possession and so can’t be searched for them.
The Regulations also explain what members of staff can do with the ‘prohibited items’ that are seized (see regulation 4):
(i) tobacco and cigarette papers can be retained or disposed of — presumably staff can smoke the said items if that is their wish;
(ii) fireworks can be retained or disposed of —
presumably staff can set them off on Bonfire Night if they see fit;
(iii) pornographic images can be disposed of, but if they are prohibited images of children or extreme pornographic images they must be delivered to a police constable as soon as is reasonably practicable. Staff cannot retain these items.

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