Britain to introduce metal detectors at school gates

( dpa ) - The British government plans to install airport- style metal detectors at hundreds of school gates in an attempt to curb youth crime and stabbings, according to a Sunday paper.

It is hoped that the detectors will help to find knives. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told British broadcaster BBC the metal detectors were a "good idea."

The detectors are to be installed at schools considered most at risk, especially in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

The plans were already backed by teachers and police, The Observer said. According to the Home Office, Smith wants to present her new violent crime action plan next month.

At the same time, the minister admitted in an interview with The Sunday Times that she did not feel safe on London's streets. She would not like to walk around the more deprived areas of the capital at night, she said.

However, she also felt uncomfortable walking around more upmarket areas such as Kensington or Chelsea, she said.

"Well, I wouldn't walk around at midnight and I'm fortunate that I don't have to do that," she said.

Youth crime is high up on the government's agenda as bloody, sometimes even deadly, fights between young people are a recurring problem.

Only last week a 13-year-old girl was stabbed with a knife at a London school.

According to The Sunday Telegraph the number of youths under 18 sentenced or cautioned for violent crime had increased by more than one third over a three-year period.

While the number of young people affected was 17,600 in 2003, it rose to 24,100 in 2006.

A spokesman for the Home Office, however, said this was due to the increased number of cases brought to court.

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