Patrol bid to sweep up truants

EDUCATION officials and police have joined forces for a new crackdown on truancy.

Hartlepool Borough Council school attendance officers and Cleveland Police will be carrying out weekday patrols – called Stay Safe Sweeps – across the town, including Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.

In the coming months any young person who appears to be of school age – primary or secondary – will be stopped and asked why they are not at school, regardless of whether they are accompanied or not.

Those who are unaccompanied and do not have a legitimate reason for being absent will be returned either to school or home.

The child’s and parents’ details will be taken and the parents risk a £60 fine.

Parents who persistently ignore their responsibilities and allow children to play truant will be prosecuted.

Education bosses say the town does not have a particular problem with truancy and the campaign is being launched with the aim of being proactive, keeping youngsters safe and reducing anti-social behaviour.

Jackie Webb, the council’s inclusion co-ordinator, said: “We make absolutely no apology for taking this action.

“Parents who allow or condone truancy are not only shirking their legal and moral responsibilities, they are also helping to deprive their child of an education.”

Inspector Paul Haytack, from the North and Coastal Neighbourhood Policing Team at Hartlepool Police, said: “Unfortunately it is an increasingly common occurrence that truanting youngsters become bored and cause anti-social behaviour across the town.

“Young people belong on school premises and those found to be out of school without a valid reason will be dealt with and their parents, who are ultimately responsible, will face more robust action if the unacceptable behaviour continues.”