This article originally appeared on the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce. To view the original article, click here.
A Stoke-on-Trent Catholic Grammar School has successfully reduced vaping by their students within their toilets after installing smart sensors.
Like many secondary schools in the UK, St-Joseph’s College knew more students were vaping and going to the toilets to do it. Latest research by the public health charity, ASH,* found that in March/April 2023 the proportion of 11-17 year olds experimenting with vaping had grown by 50% year on year, from one in thirteen to one in nine.
Charlotte Slattery, Deputy Head Teacher at St Joseph’s, said: “We had seen an increase in incidents of vaping in our toilets. It was difficult to ‘prove’ that this was happening and to be able to respond in a timely way. Some toilets were believed to be more of a ‘hot spot’ than others and we focused on these toilets first.”
At first, St Joseph’s was put off by the expense of the vape detectors, but are now pleased they chose to purchase the US-manufactured Halo Smart Sensors, from Worcestershire supplier, Ecl-ips. This particular smart sensor also detects abnormal noise levels and provides alerts if the devices are being tampered with.
Ms Slattery said: “I had dithered about it for over 12 months due to the cost but it has been transformational for us. We started with only 2 devices in our worst areas and have now ordered another 5 to go into more toilets.”
She recommended schools have a number of staff who can receive the vaping alerts, which are sent by email from the device. Ms Slattery said: “In the first week of them being installed we had repeated alerts (we were very busy) but this has decreased week on week.”
Other schools across the Midlands have installed vape sensors because of the challenges they are facing. Another Ecl-ips customer, Matthew Carpenter, Principal at Baxter College, a secondary school in Kidderminster, said: “The way vapes work in comparison to cigarettes allows them to be used quickly and the low-cost disposable ones are easily hidden or thrown away.”
However, the HALO Smart Sensors mean schools can act more decisively.
Mr Carpenter said: “You will receive a significant number of alerts and need to be able to respond quickly. I would also recommend pairing the sensor with a CCTV camera near the entrance to the toilet so you can quickly identify students who were in the toilets.”
Like at St Joseph’s, the number of alerts soon dropped and improvements in the learning environment were quickly seen at Baxter College. Mr Carpenter said: “It has transformed the amount of antisocial behaviour in toilets, children are more confident in going to the toilets. It has also reduced the number of students asking to go to the toilet during lessons.”
Bromsgrove-based security and monitoring company, Ecl-ips, has seen an uptick in its sales of the HALO Smart Sensors to schools this year, which has been accompanied by the increasing concerns about youth vaping from public health professionals, politicians and trading standards bodies. The government has promised legislation to curb youth vaping, including beefing up the inspection of vapes on sale, due to evidence of the availability of harmful illegal products.