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Fingers Wagged At Parents Of Truants

Nearly 50 children were stopped by police and social workers during a two-day clampdown on truancy, and parents were often to blame for the youngsters being out of school.

The operation took place in Nuneaton to try and stop young people being the victims of, or getting involved with, crime.

Police officers and education social workers stopped children of compulsory school age in the town centre for two afternoons last week to see what they were doing out of lessons.

Operation Wag saw 48 children being stopped. Of these, 45 were with a parent, guardian or accompanying adult.

Reasons given by parents for having their children with them instead of at school included “being sick” that day and “the only day they could do their Christmas shopping".

It can be a criminal offence to fail to make a child go to school. The three children who were out on their own had their parents contacted, or were kept at a safe place until school-leaving time.

Truancy is not a criminal offence in itself but police do have the powers to return children to school or to a safe place designated by the local authority.

John Sullivan, principal education social worker, said:

“We were disappointed to see so many children who were absent from school and in the company of their parents or guardians.

“Parents failed to recognise the impact taking their child out of school had on their child’s education and this clearly raises the challenge for us now of how we deliver that important message to parents.”

He added that there are only a few reasons why a pupil should be out of school: travelling to a medical or dental appointment, travelling to off-site sports, a field trip, work placement or religious observance.

Supt Gary Hollis said:

“This joint agency operation was very successful. We have definite plans to carry out similar operations in the future to ensure children are in school when they are supposed to be and not at risk of being drawn into minor crime.”
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CWN / Warwickshire Constabulary / 14 Dec 00
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