Ministry of Education, Guyana

The Conduct of Searches and Seizures

Search of Locker, Bag, School Premises and Seizures

  • Locker searches in school and dormitory should be routinely conducted by the school in collaboration with Department of Education staffers, such as, Schools Welfare Officers and District Education Officers and members of Parent Teachers Association/ School Board.
  • Searches should be scheduled and unscheduled.
  • Locker and bag searches must be conducted by at least two members of the committee; one must be a teacher (House Parent for the residential schools). The search must be conducted in the presence of the learner whose bag or locker is being searched.
  • A learner whose bag or locker is to be searched must be informed of this intended action by the person who will conduct the search.
  • It is the duty of the learner to open/unlock his/her locker or bag and take out the contents.
  • Any prohibitive substance, object, weapon or electronic device found in the learner’s locker or bag must be seized and reported to the parent, Department of Education and/or law enforcement agency if necessary.
  • The law enforcement officer either gives instructions as to what must be done with the prohibitive article or he/she takes command of it.
  • Routine searches must be conducted of washrooms, classrooms, laboratories and school grounds.
  • A record of any prohibitive substance, object, weapon or electronic device found on a learner must be made in the Misdemeanours Book and Log Book. A written report must be forwarded promptly to the Head of Department of Education. The parent/guardian must be notified immediately.
  • NB.

    If the support of the Police is sought, the Police personnel should not be involved in the search, unless it is a body search. The law enforcement officer should be dressed in civilian clothes and if applicable his/her weapon should be concealed.

     

    When a body search is deemed necessary?

    • When a school believes or has reasonable suspicion that a learner has concealed on his/her person any prohibitive substance, weapon, or electronic device which he/she has refused to hand over on request, then a body search is requested.

    Additionally, a full body search is deemed necessary if the child/person is visibly under the influence of a prohibitive substance as stated above (e.g. red eyes, slurred speech, unsteady movements, etc) or is displaying behaviours that are deemed to be hostile and rebellious in nature.

    (Taken from Manual of Guidelines for the Maintenance of Order and Discipline in Schools 2002 with some modifications).

     

    Body Search and Seizure

    The Headteacher/District Education Officer should be the persons authorized to request the intervention of law enforcement officers.

    The parent/guardian of a learner who is to be searched must be notified. The parent/guardian must also be informed of the findings of the search. In the case of residential schools, the dormitory mother/father acts as the parent.

    A body search of a learner must be conducted only by a law enforcement officer in the presence of the Headteacher or teacher designated by him/her (ensure gender parity).

     

    Tips members of the Search Party should observe:

    • Always watch the hands of the learner being searched.
    • Always have a witness.
    • The searcher and witness should be of the same gender as the student being searched.
    • Give students a chance to surrender item(s) being sought.
    • If possible, keep search discreet by removing a student to a private area (e.g. Headteacher’s office).
    • If a body search is being conducted, the law enforcement officer in the presence of teacher/School Welfare Officer must request student to remove outer clothes e.g. shoes, socks and empty pockets.

    Strip searches are not appropriate for schools.

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