UNHAPPY about the drug operation were parents Jackie Payne (left), Alita Hamilton (centre left), Neva Wells (centre right), and Dave Winston (rear).
UNHAPPY about the drug operation were parents Jackie Payne (left), Alita Hamilton (centre left), Neva Wells (centre right), and Dave Winston (rear). DAVID NIELSEN

Parents claim police raid spooked schoolkids

CHILDREN were left upset and fearful after police launched day-long drug raids on properties next to and near Barkers Vale Primary School during school hours, parents claim.

A NSW Department of Education spokesman said the school contacted police after the children became concerned by the level of activity nearby.

A police helicopter landed on the school oval, which officers had believed was an empty paddock opposite the school, and explained to children they were conducting an anti-drug operation.

The action reassured students who then returned to class, the spokesman said.

However Skye Stone, of Barkers Vale, who has four children at the school, said the school was left in an uproar by the drug blitz, in which the children saw utility vehicles and trucks laden with drugs driving past the school, and a helicopter with marijuana bundles underneath that flew over the school throughout the day.

“The kids were really spun out,” she said.

“The whole school is rattled.”

Ms Stone said when she picked up her children they looked like they had been through 'a day from hell'.

“There was a little girl crying and my nine-year-old said: 'I just saw a huge bundle of marijuana under a helicopter fly past',” Ms Stone said.

Jacky Payne, of Barkers Vale, said her five-year-old daughter Madeline had been frightened by the raid.

“She was crying and I couldn't calm her down,” she said.

Ms Payne said in addition to landing a helicopter at the school, police had driven a truck loaded with marijuana on to the school oval, which the children had seen.

“The parents are furious,” she said. “What other school has to put up with this?”

Ms Payne said police should have done the raid during school holidays or at the weekend.

Drug squad commander Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham said police involved in the operation were invited by the principal to meet students.

“The principal then took the students to the helicopter and they were allowed to meet with the crew, sit in the aircraft and see how the helicopter operated,” he said.

Police declined to say why the raids were done during school hours.

Police say they have seized drugs worth about $3.5 million and arrested seven people during a cannabis eradication program run in the region largely between February 2 and 6.


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