The chair of a stop and search group has said schools need to do more to tackle knife crime.

Sandra DaCosta chaired a stop and search group meeting on Wednesday night at Waltham Forest Town Hall and criticised schools for not doing enough to prevent their pupils from turning to violent crime.

A stop and search is when a police officer stops and searches a person or vehicle for stolen or illegal items.

The meeting was held to allow police officers and the council to jointly review police stop and search policy.

Ms DaCosta said: “I don’t feel schools are doing enough. High school students and, I hate to say it, but primary school children, children as young as Year 6, a lot of these young children are starting to get groomed.

“This is something I’ve voiced before. Schools need to be engaging in knife arches. Heads of schools and the education department need to come on board more.”

Knife arches are police searches within schools, specifically aimed at finding and confiscating knives and other offensive weapons from students.

Police inspector Kevin Kane was at the meeting. He said: “When these children are initially approached by gangs, their age makes them vulnerable. Safeguarding is now our biggest priority.”

The inspector also said, whilst knife arches had proven successful in the past, Waltham Forest police no longer had the resources to carry them out every day.

Similarly, he said some schools seem unwilling to conduct knife arches because they worry that doing so may make it look "like they have a knife problem."

Residents and politicians highlighted the pressure facing police forces, and how they are “trying to juggle the roles” of safeguarding and enforcing the law.

Inspector Kane explained that every young person arrested is referred to social services and sometimes officers can be waiting hours for an appropriate hand over.

Aimee Farquhar, a member of the council’s stop and search group, said: “We need to avoid victim blaming, particularly from the media’s perspective.

“These children are victims. We need to be making sure we have compassion for all of these young people.”

Inspector Kane agreed. He said: “People at this age shouldn’t in the first place be getting exposed to the things they’re being exposed to.”

He added: “Children are children and they should be treated as such."