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Getting tough on truancy
POLICE are getting tough on children who play truant from school, calling at their homes and driving them to school in a police car.
The clampdown in Amesbury started last week and the town’s police chief, Inspector Christian Lange, says it is already producing results.
“So far one early morning visit from the police has been enough,” he said.
“It’s not good for the parents when their neighbours see us knocking on their doors and taking their kids off to school.”
Each morning, police officers are provided with a list of children who have failed to turn up at school without a reasonable explanation.
“Of course, if they are off sick or there is a good reason then we don’t intervene,” said Insp Lange.
“We are accompanied by an education welfare officer and are working closely in partnership with Wiltshire Council, Stonehenge School and Avon Valley College “If they are still in bed we get their parents to wake them up, we put them in the car and deliver them straight to school.” It is hoped the crackdown will help to reduce antisocial behaviour in Amesbury and ensure that children are getting their education.
“The correct place for a child of that age to be is in school,” said Insp Lange.
“If they are not in school they are more likely to get into trouble – it’s not good for anyone to be hanging around, doing nothing all day.
“Truancy is a recurring problem for a small number of children.
“They are missing out on their education, and if us waking them up and taking them to school is what is needed, then that is what we shall do.”
Parents have a legal responsibility to ensure their children attend school until they are 16.
Next year the school leaving age is due to rise to 17, and to 18 in 2015.
Fixed penalty notices and fines can be issued if parents fail to make sure their children go to school along with parenting contracts and parenting orders designed to enforce attendance.
“So far we have been very pleased with the results, it is early days but we are taking truancy very seriously,” said Insp Lange.
“It is a real example of partnership working getting things done.”