What to do when an Incident occurs

The guidance for substance misuse education, Guidance document no: 107/2013 states;

‘Each case should be carefully considered in the light of the individual circumstances and the best interests of the child/young person. All incidents of substance misuse should be treated seriously and should be reported to the responsible staff member. Procedures should identify how to respond to different types of incident. The guiding principle must be that the appropriate response protects or safeguards the welfare of the child/young person and/or any other individuals involved in the incident. Staff should be aware that confidentiality is not an option if children and young people are at risk. The deciding factor is the degree of risk to the child/young person. Incidents can be classified according to speed of action required. Some incidents require immediate action; others require time for assessment of information, seeking advice and the involvement of other agencies. Use the School Crime Beat Protocol to make decisions about when to involve the Police when managing incidents.’

The School Beat Crime Protocol offers some essential guidance when dealing with such incidents as the misuse of substances. The aim of the School Crime Beat Policy is wherever it is possible to avoid the criminalisation of the child/young person. It can be downloaded at:


Immediate action is needed when there is a clear risk to safety. For example:

  • An adult collecting a child or young person appears to be under the influence of drink or drugs
    Action: apply locally agreed child protection procedures, involve the Police if adult is aggressive.

  • A child or young person/adult appears ill or unsafe as a result of substance misuse
    Action: consider obtaining medical advice, note relevant facts and inform the parent/carer.

  • Substances are being supplied on, or near premises
    Action: contact Police.

  • There is ready access to controlled drugs;
    Action: contact Police.

  • The premise has potentially hazardous substance misuse related litter e.g. needles, syringes;
    Action: arrange safe removal of litter according to Health and Safety policy; involve Police if related to illegal substance misuse.

  • Substance abusers behaving aggressively;
    Action: seek urgent Police assistance to remove.

  • A child /young person discloses that they are misusing drugs or their parent or other family members are misusing drugs
    Action: contact social services or a specialist substance misuse service for advice on how to respond.

In the case of non-emergencies, or if there is a need to request advice, schools may wish to contact the School Community Police Officer (SCPO). The SCPO will provide advice and arrange police attendance if necessary.