Wiltshire

Truanting pupils driven to school by Wiltshire police

Pupils in Wiltshire who fail to turn up to lessons without a reason are being escorted to school by police officers.

The police, in partnership with the council and local schools, began the initiative in Amesbury two weeks ago.

Persistent truants are visited at home by uniformed officers before being driven to school in a patrol car.

"The majority of children who have had such a visit don't need a second one," said Nigel Roper, head teacher of Stonehenge School.

'Public humiliation'

In the first fortnight of the scheme Mr Roper said the number of unexplained absences had reduced significantly.

"Yesterday we only had four who we couldn't account for. Before the scheme we would have been in double figures," he said.

Names of children who miss more than one in 10 days of school are given to the police.

A spokeswoman for Wiltshire Police said: "The police then visit the households of those selected to speak with their parents.

"If there are no reasons why they have not come to school, the parents will be asked to get them ready to go to school.

"In some circumstances this has meant requesting the parents to get the child out of bed."

Once the child arrives at school they go straight into class after being registered.

"The response we've had from the families involved is the one we wanted in that their children are coming to school," said Mr Roper.

"The sight of a police car and someone knocking on your door isn't something everyone would want.

"What most parents want is for the police car to go away as quickly as possible and they've worked out that by sending their children to school it doesn't happen.

"We're not into public humiliation however the serious point is that the parents are potentially opening themselves up to legal action if they fail to get their children to school."

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