Schools to be allowed to search pupils' bags for weapons

School staff will be allowed to search pupils' bags for weapons and special teams will be set up to stop violence in schools where discipline is failing, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced.


AFP - President Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans Thursday to let school staff search pupils for weapons and for special teams to be set up to intervene in schools where discipline was breaking down.

He unveiled the plans in a major speech on law and order reform aimed at fighting drugs and weapons trafficking and tackling crime in areas such as the suburban ghettos that ring Paris.

"There is no question of tolerating the presence of weapons in schools," Sarkozy said in the speech at the Elysee palace in which he said school staff will soon be allowed to search students' bags for arms.

"I say this with solemnity: let us never forget the deaths in Winnenden in Germany," he said, referring to an incident in which a 17-year-old shot dead 15 people at his old school.

France has been rocked in recent months by several incidents in which gangs of youths entered schools to attack pupils or teachers.

"I want the head of each regional education authority to have at his disposal a mobile team of specially trained officials who can come and help out on the pedagogical front heads of schools who are facing discipline difficulties," Sarkozy said.

He also said retired police officers or other volunteers could be asked to carry out missions aimed at "securing schools and their surroundinag areas."

The president vowed to stamp out crime in the high-immigrant suburbs of Paris.

"The priority today is the recovery of the difficult areas. I want a complete mobilisation of security forces for this necessity," he said.

"We must concentrate on the 25 areas, 21 of them in the Paris region and four in the provinces," which are "ravaged by delinquency, by drug and weapons trafficking," he said.

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