Students at a school in southeast England returned to class on Wednesday to face a new regime of weekly random drug tests.
A sample of 20 pupils from 960 on the roll at The Abbey School in Kent will be chosen by computer to have mouth swabs taken to detect cannabis, speed, ecstasy, heroin and cocaine.
Head teacher Peter Walker was quoted by the BBC as saying 85 percent of parents had agreed for their children to be tested, saying “something else” was required, given that government drug initiatives were not working.
“One of the difficulties we have got in our society is that the government has tried so hard and so much to try to improve levels of prevention, yet we are not meeting with enough success,” he was quoted as saying.
Walker said no child would be tested against his or her wishes, adding that those testing positive would not be expelled, though any found to be drug dealers would be.
The school, whose pupils range in age from 11 to 19, said Walker was not taking media questions on Wednesday.
Figures on the Home Office Web site, the latest available, say that for the year ending March 2003, drug offences recorded by police rose 16 percent over the previous year to 141,116.
Officials attributed the rise to increased police activity.