Action to be taken after a search and seizure
Note: for the remainder of this guidance from this section onwards, a reference to a principal no longer includes assistant principal or authorised teacher.
Seizure of firearm, ammunition or prohibited weapon
If a firearm, ammunition or prohibited weapon is seized by a principal, the item must be stored in the following manner until surrendered to Victoria Police:
- the item is to be stored in a locked strongbox, safe or other secure container in a locked room, and
- access to the room containing the seized item must only be granted by the principal or assistant principal or
- if none of the above is practicable in the circumstances, the items must be stored in as safe and secure a manner as possible
The principal must report the seizure of a firearm, ammunition or prohibited weapon to Security Services Unit of Security and Emergency Management Division.
The principal must contact Victoria Police as soon as practicable after seizing a firearm, ammunition or prohibited weapon, and surrender or deal with the item as directed by Victoria Police.
Seizure of an item which is not a firearm or prohibited weapon
As a reminder for the purposes of this section, a harmful item includes an item that has been declared to be a harmful item by a principal or an item which, due to the circumstances, has become a harmful item, e.g. a screwdriver has been used by a student to threaten another student and / or teacher.
The principal must notify Incident Support and Operations Centre (ISOC) immediately to report the seizure of certain items, and then contact Victoria Police — refer to Reporting and Managing School Incidents (including emergencies).
As a general guide, seizure of the following items should be reported to ISOC and Victoria Police as soon as practicable:
- any knife, dagger, sword or serrated blade, or
- any item that is used in an attack or threatened attack against another person, or
- any 'controlled weapon'
The seized item is required to be stored in a safe and secure manner, such as a locked cupboard, with access permitted only by the principal.
If the item has been seized while on a teacher-supervised activity, the item is to be stored securely and safely by the individual who seized the item.
Any seized item is to be retained by the principal until the principal is satisfied that there is no longer a threat to the safety, security or wellbeing of any person or property. This is a significant discretion, and the principal can retain the item until he or she reasonably believes that there is no longer a threat from returning it. Such discretion could last for an hour, a day, a week or longer, provided that the principal reasonably believes that the threat of danger continues to exist.
When determining the degree of threat to the safety, security or wellbeing of any person, the following considerations are to be taken into account:
- the nature of any threat to use the harmful item
- the nature of the harmful item
- the likelihood of any students using a harmful item to threaten the safety, security or wellbeing of any person, and
- any other circumstances relating to the item or incidents related to the item that may be relevant
Once the principal is reasonably satisfied that there is no longer a threat to the safety, security or wellbeing of any person or property, a seized item should be returned in the following manner:
- the item is to be returned to a parent or carer of the owner of the item
- where the child is an independent student it may not be appropriate to make the property available for collection by the student’s parents/carers and the property should be returned to the student
- the property made available for collection should be in the same condition as when the property was seized
- if the owner of the item is unknown, reasonable steps should be made to ascertain the owner. After reasonable steps have been taken and the owner is still unknown or in dispute the item should be disposed of at the discretion of the Principal or as directed by Victoria Police
An item that it is illegal to possess, threatens the safety or wellbeing of students or staff, or that the principal reasonably suspects to have been used to commit a crime, should not be made available for collection by a student or the student’s parent/carer. In such circumstances the principal must notify Victoria Police of the seizure of the property, and:
- if Victoria Police state that they will come to the school to investigate matters relating to the property, the property must not be returned to the owner or their parent/carer until they do so, or
- if Victoria Police seize the property, the property need not be made available by the school for collection
If Victoria Police decide not to seize the property, and the principal reasonably believes that the return of the item does not pose a continuing threat to the safety or wellbeing of students or staff, the item must be made available for collection by the owner or parent/carer of the owner.
Reviewed 11 June 2020