A WIRRAL-WIDE campaign has been launched to warn schools of the risks of complacency over drug abuse and experimentation.

Every school in the borough has been issued with guidance designed to develop policies effectively to deal with drug-related issues.

Head teachers, drug workers, police, councillors and local authority directors have collaborated in the production of the Management of Drug Related Incidents Guidance Document, which is in line with the National Drug Strategy.

Implemented locally by Wirral Drug and Alcohol Action Team, the initiative is aimed at preventing today's young people from becoming tomorrow's problem drug users.

Project leader Pat Rice, former Wirral school drug adviser, said: "We are encouraging schools to have a clear and well-publicised policy on handling situations in which young people are found using or possessing drugs.

"We are advising that a balance needs to be struck between supporting individuals who become involved in drug abuse, the safety of other young people in the school and the reputation of the school."

The guidance document covers a wide range of issues, including the law and liaison with police; measures to be taken when drugs are found on school premises or in the possession of young people; informing parents; access to specialists and referral to other agencies.

The initiative is designed to work in tandem with Department of Education and Skills policies published earlier this year.

Pat Rice commented: "Having an effective preventative strategy is not only important for schools, but also a central part of tackling drug use more generally in society and in helping young people achieve their full potential in life."

Wirral DAAT was formed in 1995 and include representatives from the NHS, social services, the voluntary sector, police, prisons authority, the probation service and the Home Office. The organisation is responsible for ensuring targets of the government's ten-year national drug strategy are met.

Last month, the Globe reported how Wirral council has embarked on a 'zero tolerance' drive to counter the menace of drugs in schools.

The new measures will include allowing schools to use sniffer dogs if needed.