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Wednesday, 3 January, 2001, 17:43 GMT
Truancy sweeps cut city's crime
Truancy sweep
Children are challenged as to why they are not in school
A reduction in youth crime in the city of York was attributed to an anti-truancy patrol involving police and the local council.

The number of recorded crimes committed by school age children during school time fell by a third in one year, from 417 cases in the academic year 1997/98 to 279 in 1998/99.

Truancy patrol
Truancy patrols have cut youth crime
As part of the scheme, all children seen in the city centre during school hours are stopped and questioned by police officers and education social workers - even if they are accompanied by an adult.

Those without a valid excuse for absence are returned to school.

The drive against absenteeism in York also involves former truants going into schools and explaining why playing truant did not pay off for them in the long term.

Asked if the drop in youth crime in school time could be down to more crimes going unnoticed, Carole Patrick, development manager for the Safer York Partnership, said: "You could always argue that, but it's a question of reported crime. This is the best guide we've got that our work is effective."

'Entroubled' children

The truancy watch also enabled the authorities to help children whose truancy stemmed from a deeper problem, said assistant director of Education for York City Council, Murray Rose.


It's not just about keeping retailers happy, it's about basic health and safety and child protection as well

Murray Rose
"It's not just a stick approach to removing kids from the street, it's about identifying what I call 'entroubled' children.

"Their truanting could be down to problems at school, with parents, siblings, domestic problems, bullying.

"This approach allows us to ask them why they're out of school, what the problem is and provides a platform to talk about it," he said.

Mr Murray spoke of how the scheme had identified a 13-year-old truant who was being manipulated by an older man to shoplift on his behalf.

"It's not just about keeping retailers happy, it's about basic health and safety and child protection as well."

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See also:

03 Jan 01 | Education
War on truancy continues
19 Oct 00 | Education
Truants face fresh crackdown
16 Mar 00 | Education
Truants' parents face jail
22 Jan 99 | Education
Tackling truancy
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