SCHOOLS have been given the power to confiscate mephedrone from pupils – despite it not being banned under the law.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker has written to every school in England telling them they can seize mephedrone and all other “legal highs”.

The substance, also known as Meow Meow or M-Cat, has effects similar to those of ecstasy. It was linked this week to the deaths of two teenage boys, Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19, in Scunthorpe.

East Yorkshire head teacher Jeff Bower welcomed the news but said firmer action still needed to be taken. Mr Bower, the head at Woldgate College, in Pocklington, first spoke out when a student at the school collapsed after taking mephedrone earlier in the year. The incident led The Press to launch The Menace of Mephedrone petition, which has currently collected nearly 700 signatures.

“It’s a first step but a small one,” Mr Bower said. “It’s like putting out a fire with a small drizzle of water. I cannot understand why people are still dragging their heels to ban this drug when people are dying.”

Mr Coaker said the law gave teachers the power to confiscate “all inappropriate items” irrespective of their legal status. Schools are also under no obligation to return confiscated substances, he said.