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Drugs, rifle found at farm school

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A Taratahi agricultural student has been stood down after drugs and a rifle were found in their car, but police were not alerted to the incident.

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre chief executive Arthur Graves admitted on Friday its processes for handling the incident about two weeks ago should have been better, but does not believe there is an ongoing problem with drugs at the school.

“Once we had found the drugs, we should have let the police know we were investigating,” he said.

Instead, the police visited the school on May 4 after receiving a tip-off, several days after the incident.

Mr Graves said the student’s car was searched by school management after they received information that it contained drugs.

“The drugs were found hidden in the car . . . later that same day the car was searched again and the rifle was found but we are certain there was no connection between the rifle and drugs,” he said.

Mr Graves said “from time to time we will talk to students about why we are so anti-drugs in a work environment”, and that is what prompted the tip-off to the management.

“We believe this is an episodic incident rather than a systemic problem,” he said.

“In an incident like this, a student is stood down while we investigate. That investigation is under way.”

He would not provide details of the student involved, and did not know the amount of drugs found.The school also has a policy that any firearms brought on to school property must be handed to management so they are stored appropriately.

Senior Sergeant Mike Sutton confirmed that police were aware of the incident.

“The student did have a firearms licence but we are looking at the suitability of having it there, and its storage,” he said. “The presence of drugs [with a rifle] could be a concern.”

He was not sure if there had a been a delay in police being involved.

“Most schools do contact the police when drugs are found so we can record the amount and ensure the drugs disposed of appropriately.”

Taratahi’s holding of the drugs was not necessarily a concern – “It depends on what their intention is in terms of disposing of it,” he said.

Police inquiries are also continuing.

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