A campaign to crackdown on school truants in South Tyneside has been hailed as an overwhelming success by Education staff and Police who carried out a truancy sweep on the streets of the Borough.
Teams of Police and Education Welfare Officers last week patrolled shopping centres, parks and areas where young people gather when truanting from school. They also studied footage from the CCTV cameras covering South Shields Town Centre.
The teams stopped and questioned 55 children who were out of school. Of these 29 were unaccompanied and 26 were with a parent. A total of 20 pupils were found to be truanting and their excuses ranged from: "I'm moving house next week!" to "I need all day off to go to the dentist this afternoon."
A spokesman for the Council's Education Welfare Service warns children and parents to cut out truancy as this crackdown is just one in a series planned for the coming months.
Councillor Ron Reynolds, Lead Member for Lifelong Learning and Leisure says: "Although school attendance rates in South Tyneside are in line with the national average there's room for improvement. The message I want to get across to parents is that their children need to be in school learning - not wandering the streets running the risk of getting involved in criminal activity or becoming victims of crime."
He adds: "If parents continually ignore warning about making sure their children attend school regularly they run the risk of facing prosecution in the Courts. So far this year South Tyneside Council has taken 27 parents to Court where they were fined because of their children's truancy."