Students at Milton Keynes College have shown their support for the use of a knife arch, a machine to detect if people are carrying weapons, on its campuses on Chaffron Way and in Bletchley.
In a survey carried out by the city’s Community Safety Partnership, SaferMK, 83% said they were happy the metal detecting device was being used, and 86% said it made them, “feel safe.”
The College started a trial of the device in October and after positive feedback from both parents and students, have acquired a second machine to allow them to extend the initiative.
The use of the arches has the following aims:
- Deterring students who may be tempted to bring a weapon to College, knowing there’s a strong chance it will be detected
- Student and staff will feel safer, knowing that this is the case
- Those who might have considered carrying a knife, through fear of others, will also be less likely to do so
- Provide an opportunity for discussions with learners around the risks of carrying a knife
Group Principal and CEO, Sally Alexander says, “We haven’t experienced a big problem with knives around the College but we have to recognise the reality of life in the country at large and in our city. The College being locked down just a couple of weeks ago due to a knife incident not far from campus shows the impact this issue is already having on our colleagues and our learners. With the safety and wellbeing of our students, colleagues and our communities being our first priority we’re continuing to look at ways to minimise risk in future.”
The plan is also receiving backing from Thames Valley Police. Chief Inspector Euan Livingstone said, “Thames Valley Police are proud of the work that Milton Keynes College continue to do to raise awareness of challenges faced in the region. Furthermore, the work that they are undertaking to support crime reduction. It is a bold leadership decision to implement knife arches and we fully support their work.”
At this stage, the arch will be used for short periods across the various buildings of the college estate, as a trial to see how well the system works. It’s planned to hold further consultation with students, parents and staff to assess how well received the pilot project is. The arch is supervised by security staff as well as colleagues from the College who engage in conversations with learners and staff as needed.
Amy Langford, Director of Inclusion at Milton Keynes College added, “While this is of course a difficult subject, overall, the feedback we’ve received has been positive. Parents have said that they feel reassured that we’re taking steps to ensure the safety of our students and the research from SaferMK shows that our learners feel the same. Throughout this process, the safety of our colleagues, learners and our local communities has been our main focus, and this will continue as we carry on with this initiative".
Sally Alexander says, “We know everyone’s going to have a strong view about this, and we think it’s really important to make sure we’re taking people with us. That’s why we’ve communicated with colleagues as well as students and parents, to make them aware of these measures and the reasons why the knife arch will be in place. We want everyone who comes here to work or study to not only be safe but to feel safe, so this very much needs to be something done with properly informed consent, every step of the way.”