NEW data has “unearthed every parent’s worst nightmare” with drug offences at West Yorkshire schools and colleges tripling in just four years.

A Freedom of Information Request (FOI) sent to West Yorkshire Police revealed the figure had risen drastically from 26 cases in 2015 to 78 across 2019.

The investigation was compiled by leading drug addiction experts, UKAT (UK Addiction Treatment Group), which has a residential rehab facility in Bradford (Oasis Recovery).

UKAT asked the force for the number of offences for the possession of cannabis, possession of other controlled drugs (such as Heroin, Cocaine and Ecstasy) and drug trafficking recorded at schools and colleges across their patch.

The data shows offences that were recorded with a location identifier of "school" or "college".

A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: "The figures contained within this FOI demonstrate offences logged where a school or college is named within the location of the crime occurrence.

"This can include grounds, fields, car parks and also outside the premises.

"It also does not include whether any of the offences recorded involve pupils or whether they occurred whilst the premises were open."

There were 22 offences for the possession of cannabis back in 2015.

That figure has sharply risen by around 63 per cent in four years, with 59 offences in 2019.

The biggest year-on-year rise came between 2016 and 2017 when the amount of offences more than doubled (from 35 to 72).

The data also shows a concerning uplift in the number of offences for the possession of other controlled drugs, like Heroin, Cocaine and Ecstacy, rising from one offence in schools and colleges in 2015 to eight offences in 2019.

UKAT has launched an ‘Addiction Education Programme’ in response to its investigation.

It is a completely free, interactive workshop led by a drug and alcohol specialist, on-site in schools and colleges to educate and engage with pupils on the dangers of substance misuse and peer pressure.

Part of the workshop explores the risks that come with smuggling drugs.

The FOI showed that offences in the trafficking of controlled drugs in schools and colleges have almost quadrupled in just four years, rising from three offences in 2015 to 11 in 2019.

Nuno Albuquerque, Treatment Lead at UKAT, explains the importance of education providers across West Yorkshire taking proactive steps to prevent the problem developing further.

He said: “Our investigation has unearthed every parents worst nightmare, that some children are exposed to and involved in drugs whilst at school - a place they thought they’d be safe at.

“It’s important to stress the power of preventative action and interactive education when it comes to substances, but schools have lost vital, on-site support roles through welfare budget cuts.

“Now, not only are they expected to teach, but to wear multiple hats and spin multiple plates in order to keep the pupils safe.

“This approach is unsustainable and unfair.

"That’s why our free addiction awareness programme has launched.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: "West Yorkshire Police continues to work closely with a number of schools through our Safer Schools Partnerships and many secondary schools have dedicated Safer Schools Officers embedded within their teams.

"These roles aim to assist with early intervention, building positive relationships and helping pupils to be safe and feel safe.

"West Yorkshire Police are proud to work closely with schools, safeguarding and protecting children against the risk of crime.

"The Force also continues to operate its highly successful Force-wide, multi-agency Programme Precision initiative.

"Officers are tasked with investigating and dealing with serious organised criminal gangs, including many who target children to involve them in drugs offending.

"We also proactively engage with Liaison and Diversion teams who seek to divert those within custody who are involved in drug activity."