SNIFFER dogs could go into secondary schools in Andover to search for drugs as part of a new scheme.

Six Andover schools have signed up to a drug prevention partnership called Hampshire Safe.

The scheme could see drug detection dogs deployed with no notice in participating secondary schools.

A letter sent to parents at Harrow Way School from headteacher Mike Serridge said: “We wish to reassure you that the dogs will be deployed to search the whole building and not individuals. However, during their search the dogs may detect drugs on students or in property belonging to students. Should this happen, anyone suspected to be in possession of illegal substances may be searched. Police assistance will be provided where necessary and of course parents/carers would be informed at the earliest opportunity.”

The headteacher warned: “Any student found in possession of illegal substances could be at risk of exclusion or face prosecution.”

Hampshire Safe launched in 2018 and already has numerous schools in the New Forest signed up.

The Andover schools which have joined the scheme are John Hanson Community School, Test Valley School, Smannell Field School, Winton Community Academy, Andover College and Harrow Way Community School.

Mr Serridge said access to drugs by young people is a concern, particularly the range of substances now available.

He told parents: “We are determined to do our bit to not only educate your children to the harms of drug abuse but also make access to these substances far more difficult while young people are in our care.”

He added: “We believe that by working together we can collectively not only raise awareness of the impact of substance misuse but also put measures in place to stop it from happening at our schools and colleges.”

The decision comes after the matter of Class A drugs in Hampshire schools was raised at a Hampshire County Council meeting last summer.

Councillor Seán Woodward said: “There is not a large drugs problem in our schools. It is, however, important to protect our children from those who would do them harm to profit from them.”

However, Harry Sumnall, a professor of substance use at Public Health Institute, criticised the move to bring sniffer dogs into schools. He was reported to have said in August after the decision was discussed: “Absolutely the wrong approach to prevention, undermines trust, and fosters a negative school environment.”

Max Dely, a journalist has worked for drug harm reduction charities, described the decision as a ‘bad idea’. Writing to Twitter, he said: “Why are they resurrecting this bad idea? Even British Transport Police think it’s dumb.”