Sweep rounds up truants

YOUNGSTERS who skip school have today been warned that they will be caught.

YOUNGSTERS who skip school have today been warned that they will be caught.

Suffolk County Council's education welfare officers (EWOs) carry out regular checks on any young people who are playing truant and together with police, can stop people in the street or even call at their house to see why they are absent.

Yesterday there was an Impact Day in the Queensway area, where various agencies, including Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council, got involved in three events to tackle issues such as truancy and selling goods to underage people in the

Impact Days have been running in Suffolk since 2004 and are held at random times throughout the year.

Two teams of police officers and EWOs carried out a truancy sweep yesterday morning where they picked up seven unaccompanied children and two children who were with their parents. A cold call at a house of an alleged truant was carried out and two parents were also challenged outside school for bringing their child in late.

Mary Blake, an EWO from Suffolk County Council, got a list of those with unauthorised absences from various schools and visited the addresses to see the situation.

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She said: “Sometimes when we do these checks, we uncover issues that are maybe making them miss school and we can help them.

“The day is designed to act as a deterrent. If young people are aware we have these days, they are less likely to do it.

“We try to engage with the family and work with the parents to carry out their legal responsibility to see their children in school.

“Part of our role is to safeguard children but also ensure they get an education.”

If a child does not attend school, the parents are asked to attend a meeting with EWOs. Three weeks later a home visit is made and then a further three weeks down the line a review of the situation is carried out.

The parents of persistent truants can be subjected to a fine, in the form of a fixed penalty notice, or even prosecution at court.

In the afternoon multi-agencies attended a safer neighbourhood team meeting and there were also test purchases on underage sales carried out by the Trading Standards department.

Do sweeps like this prevent truancy? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.