Weapon Detection Measures in Youth Justice Services – Various Youth Justice Services (October 2021)


Attached below is Bradford, Hillingdon, Lambeth, Luton and Waltham Forest Services methodology concerning weapons detection measures employed in their buildings. 


The following information and experience are from a variety of services that use weapon detection arches or scanners with all children that attend their premises.

Local authorities take their own decisions about whether and which weapons detection systems are used based on their assessments of risk specific to their local circumstances. There will not be one standard approach which is suitable for all services. The YJB is sharing the experiences of services which have used weapons detection systems to inform those decisions, and recommends that they are taken with Child First Principles in mind.

  1. Bradford Youth Justice Service

Bradford Youth Justice Service use scanners/wands, which are operated by the youth justice service police officers. The scanners/wands are checked every week to ensure they are working and have a spare wand. The Police Officers received training in order to operate this system. Bradford have provided their most recent knife scanning policy and knife crime risk assessment from 2020.

  1. Hillingdon Youth Justice and Adolescent Development Services

Hillingdon Youth Justice and Adolescent Development Services use a weapons arch on their premise which is operated by trained members of the security team. Security staff are able to engage with children, which avoids further escalation. The weapons arch is in an ‘airlock’, which has helped to mitigate concerns. Hillingdon Youth Justice and Adolescent Development Services have increased the security sweeps on the outer perimeter to mitigate the argument that children may hide weapons outside. Since the device was installed, no weapons have been detected. Only a small amount of cannabis. Furthermore, Hillingdon Youth Justice and Adolescent development services found that staff feel safe, parents/carers feel confident about their child attending the building and have found no resistance from the children.

Hillingdon Youth Justice and Adolescent Development Services have shared their standard operating procedures for security officer.

  1. Lambeth Youth Offending Service

The context for Lambeth youth offending service is that prior to moving to their new building they had a knife arch. This was mainly to resolve some of the concerns around safety. This has means that when Lambeth YOS moved to their new building there was some resistance in removing the knife arch. After lots of consultation exercises, inclusive of staff and children, it was agreed not to install a knife arch and rather to move to wanding system as an alternative.

Lambeth YOS are working towards having a trauma informed space and acknowledge that wanding children doesn’t fully align with this ethos and further work is being completed to consider this. This is also in light of the fact that wanding children does not reduce the potential for incidents to occur outside of the YOS building and it further does not address staff meeting children outside of the YOS building, as the wands are operated by security staff.

  1. Luton Youth Offending Service

Luton youth offending service have shared their archway metal detector procedure.

  1. Waltham Forest Youth Offending Service 

Waltham Forest YOS has a weapons arch at the entrance of the building and also uses the wanding system. Prior to implementing both, the Voices in Partnership – Young participants group was consulted around how they would be operated.

Safety questionnaires and behaviour contracts have been updated to explain the use of the weapon arch and wanding system to all children and families.
Although staff were initially concerned about how the arch would be operated and the impact on children- attendance, they now feel that it works well and children have anecdotally reported that they feel safer coming to the office. Parents, through the parent consultation workshops, also felt it was a good idea.

The wanding system is used when children are attending group activities off-site. The children have had no problems with this process due to prior consultation that took place. Waltham Forest YOS are currently commencing a new children and young person survey, which facilitates the continual reviewing of the use of the arch and the wanding system.

  1. Newham Youth Offending Service 

The weapons arch has been in operation at Newham YOS for 6 years. All visitors who enter the building are required to go through the arch. Visitors are required to leave any liquids including deodorant, and perfumes with the reception staff.

Newham YOS have had positive experience of using the weapons arch. Staff undertake a meet and greet process with all the children that includes an explanation of what is required having entered through the arch.

This mechanism provides additional safety and reassurance provided to children who enter the building to engage in sessions to support their future aspirations. In addition, this process offers those parents/carers who may have concerns about their children attending the YOS building further reassurance around their safety.


Youth justice service:Bradford Youth Justice Service
Name: Sarah Griffin 
Email: sarah.griffin@bradford.gov.uk 
youth justice service:Hillingdon Youth Justice and Adolescent Development Services
Name:Kat Wyatt 
youth justice service: Lambeth youth offending service
Name: Ellanora Clarke
Youth justice service:Waltham Forest youth offending service
Name:Cheryle Davies
Youth justice service:Luton youth offending service 
Name:David Collins