Truants caught in sweep across Ipswich shopping centres

Members of the council teams in Ipswich Town Centre taking part in the truancy sweep in the town. Ph

Members of the council teams in Ipswich Town Centre taking part in the truancy sweep in the town. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

Council officials and police have swooped across Ipswich in a bid to find youngsters playing truant or being taken Christmas shopping before the end of term.

Educational welfare officers from the county council were joined by police officers and police community support officers for the operation in Ipswich town centre and at retail parks on the edge of the town.

They were looking for school-age children who should still be in class – state schools in Suffolk do not break up until Friday.

Council official Nigel Shaddick said the sweep was organised because it was known that some parents did not think it was worthwhile sending their children to school for the last days of term before Christmas.

Parents who were found with children would be spoken to and have their details checked. If it was found that their children were on an unauthorised absence they would be reported and could get a fixed penalty notice.

Children found in town on their own without authorisation from their school would be taken to a “place of safety” – normally their school.

Mr Shaddick said: “It is important for their education that the students attend school until the very end of term – we carried out a similar operation this time last year and found a significant number out of class.

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“It is also a safeguarding issue – we want to ensure youngsters are in a safe environment.”

The teams were joined by Suffolk County Council cabinet member for education and skills Lisa Chambers who joined officers in Ipswich town centre.

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