Devon schools warned over newspaper truancy reports

Families in Devon have been warned they could be named in local papers if their children play truant from school.

Newspapers including the Exeter Express and Echo want to report freely the names of families in prosecution cases. Magistrates currently place reporting restrictions on the majority of cases.

Devon County Council (DCC) has sent letters to all schools in the county informing them of the situation.

But the council said in some instances families had already been named.

During truancy cases, magistrates state the identities of families can not be published by the press, but in some instances local papers are now challenging these orders.

The letter, from principal education welfare officer Beverley Dubash, stated: "I am...writing to suggest that you may wish to warn parents in your next newsletter, that if they are prosecuted over their child's poor attendance, they may find both themselves and their child identified in the local press."

It added that DCC would "continue to argue for anonymity" for families.

Exeter Express and Echo editor Marc Astley said: "This is not about naming and shaming children, it is about ensuring that justice is done - and that it is seen to be done.

"We firmly believe in the public's right to know what is happening in our courts - which is why, on their behalf, we are prepared to challenge secret justice. If the press does not do this, who else will?"

It added it would only "sometimes" challenge legal orders.

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