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300 Children Caught In Truancy Swoop

A major swoop on truants in Coventry has netted nearly 300 stay-away children across the city in the last few months.

West Midlands Police, working in partnership with local schools and the Education Welfare Service, have returned 279 children to school during their two joint anti-truancy initiatives.

In January 182 children were returned, with a further 97 being returned in the second part of the initiative in June.

Sergeant Lee Patterson, the beat manager for Longford, who co-ordinated the initiative said:

"We extended the boundaries in this second initiative and stopped 191 children of school age. Those with unacceptable reasons for not being at school - 97 in total - were taken back. We also arrested four school age children, three for burglary and one for theft, during the initiative in school hours.

"Thirty-three schools were involved and the head teachers of these schools gave us their full support. Some of those involved were not regular truants, but had seen an opportunity to leave the premises and had taken it; others had no intention of staying at school.

"The Education Welfare Service is working with the head teachers to evaluate these results and support the individuals involved in the future so our determination to clamp down on truancy should have a positive impact on the lives of those involved."

The initiatives took place in the Bell Green and Wyken areas of the city and included both residential and shopping areas - it did not include Coventry city centre.

Sgt Patterson added:

"The inter-agency approach has ensured minimum loss to the regular patrol time undertaken by officers, who are all based on the sector, and who are committed to tackling nuisance crime often committed by youngsters who play truant.

"There are possible links between truancy, anti-social behaviour and crime. We hope that this operation will have an impact on these problems and increase the quality of life for people living in the communities we serve."

Councillor George Duggins, cabinet member of education services, said:

"The partnership between the police and the Education Welfare Service in tackling truancy is going from strength to strength. The latest initiative, which took place in Bell Green, Foleshill, Radford and Wyken, proved very successful.

"Every parent or carer of all pupils stopped during the initiative was notified, raising the awareness of the importance of their children being in school. Absence from school denies children an education, which will eventually have an adverse impact on their future. The aim of the partnership is to work even more closely with schools, looking at developing an ongoing programme targeting pupils who are absent from school without reason."

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CWN / Crimes, Fires & Accidents / West Midlands Police / 14 Aug 01
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