Quarter of college staff have caught students with weapons including knives, machetes and metal bars

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One in four college workers say weapon violence is a problem as gangs bring their disputes into the classroom.

Some 23 per cent had dealt with items such as knives and many felt the problem was getting worse, a survey found.

In the latest indication of Wild West Britain, support staff said machetes, hammers, metal bars and even a gun had been recovered or used in fights. Some had been injured by a weapon.

One worker told how gang members armed with hammers chased a student through their college, with staff having to act as ‘human shields’ between him and his assailants until police arrived.

Another witnessed a student dying after being stabbed outside a college.

One in five of the 845 support staff, from further education and sixth form colleges, quizzed by Unison did not feel safe at work. Ninety per cent had not been trained to deal with weapons.

Knife crime and cuts to youth services will be debated at the union’s conference in Liverpool on June 16-17.

Last week it was revealed school pupils are to be given extra lessons on knife crime ahead of a possible surge in violence over the summer holidays.

Children aged 11 to 16 will be taught the importance of having good role models instead of being influenced by gang leaders.

The lesson plans which were sent out to 20,000 teachers yesterday are the latest Home Office initiative to curb the youth knife crisis.

Knife crime is at record levels and with a total of 40,829 offences reported by police last year, a 6 per cent increase on 2017.

Separate hospital data has shown that 347 under-16s were taken to A&E with stab wounds in 2017/18, up from 180 in 2012-13.

Yet lessons on knife crime were first rolled out by the Home Office last summer, before the violence peaked, and appear to have had limited impact.

These new lessons will contain new content on the importance of having good role models, for example youth workers or sports coaches.

The Government is preparing for another surge in violence over the summer holidays with gangs of teenagers roaming the streets with little to do.

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