Police sting catches 16 children playing truant in Leicester
Police picked up 16 children playing truant in a sweep of a city neighbourhood.
Some of the youngsters caught out of school in the Spinney Hills area were with their parents.
Officers and education welfare officers from Leicester City Council staged the one-day, unannounced truancy operation last week.
Teams of officers and education officials escorted children who were on their own back to their schools, and their parents were informed. Parents who were stopped in the street with their children will be interviewed by education officials.
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Parents who fail to ensure children attend school can be fined up to £100 for isolated incidents, and those who persistently keep a child out of school can be jailed.
The sweep will be repeated soon, officers said.
Inspector Bill Knopp, commander of Spinney Hill Park police station, said: "It's important children receive the best education available."
"If they are not in school, there is a possibility they are vulnerable to getting involved in crime or anti-social behaviour or being victims themselves."
Councillor Vi Dempster, assistant city mayor with responsibility for children, young people and schools, said: "We work closely with the police and schools in regard to truancy operations across the city, wherever a need for this action is identified.
"They are just one aspect of the work undertaken by our education welfare team to support schools, children, young people and their families.
"They send out a strong message across the city that school attendance is essential.
"Truancy operations also help safeguard young people.
"Truants who are not with a parent or carer, are returned to a designated place of safety, usually their school, and their family immediately informed.
"If there is a genuine reason for a young person to be absent, then the officers on the truancy operation will request that the parents or carers inform the school and provide appropriate evidence.
"It is vital that everyone understands how important it is for children to attend school regularly.
"It is absolutely key to helping them achieve their full potential."