Drugs in Lismore schools: we're now second-worst in NSW
DRUGS are becoming an increasing problem in New South Wales schools, with police called to 20 cases last year in Lismore - the second highest number in the state.
In 2014, drug-related incidents requiring police attendance at schools were at their highest level in 11 years, with officers responding to 377 incidents.
The spike in drug-related cases in schools saw the offence rate jump from 2.4 incidents per 100,000 population to 5.2.
Despite Shoalhaven on the South Coast recording the most number of incidents due to its population, the offence rate in Lismore schools of 45 cases per 100,000 population was almost double that of Shoalhaven's 22.7.
In comparison, Greater Sydney, Penrith and Campbelltown all recorded offence rates of 5.7 incidents per 100,000 people.
According to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research BOCSAR, the increase in incidents was driven by an increase in cannabis use. More than 75% of the 2014 offences were cannabis-related.
BOCSAR deputy director Jacqueline Fitzgerald said cannabis-related offences had increased across NSW.
"Between 2013 and 2014 possession/use of cannabis increased 17 per cent across NSW," she said.
A NSW Department of Education spokesman said the data captured incidents occurring outside of school hours and persons who were not students.
"Some of these incidents have occurred when the schools are closed, on weekends and during holidays," the spokesman said.
"The incidents are for all schools and include incidents on non-government school grounds."
The spokesman said the education department had a drugs in schools policy that principals followed to plan and execute their responses to all drug-related incidents.
"There is an emphasis on prevention through drug education and safe and supportive school environments, and intervention and support for students who may be involved," the spokesman said.
Police work closely with schools across the state, with student and youth liaison officers based at every local area command.