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Kirton and Boston schools support operation to tackle truancy

Nearly 14 teenagers who were skiving off school were targeted in an operation to clamp down on truancy.

Police were joined by education welfare officers from four schools in patrolling the streets of Boston today (Tuesday, May 7) on the lookout for truants as part of Operation Absence.

The schools taking part in the operation were Thomas Middlecot Academy in Kirton, Giles Academy, Haven High Academy and Boston High School.

The Operation Absence task force which patrolled the streets of Boston
The Operation Absence task force which patrolled the streets of Boston

As a result of the patrols, they spoke to nearly 40 youngsters, whose circumstances were documented, and a number of home visits were also made to addresses of persistent absentees.

Sgt David Robinson, who oversaw today’s operation, warned youngsters playing truant are at risk of being groomed.

He said: “Truancy from school impacts on young people’s education and future. Whilst being absent without authorisation young people can be influenced in a negative way by peer groups.

“There is often no appropriate adult oversight and their whereabouts are unknown. Young people are at risk of being groomed into broader criminal activity as well as being persuaded to behave in an antisocial manner. This in turn can have an impact on members of our community through making some of the more vulnerable people feel uncomfortable or even unsafe, rendering them reluctant to freely go about their daily business. We want people to feel safe living in, working in and visiting Boston.

“Work already completed suggests that having this close collaboration between multiple agencies can assist in putting in place interventions to avoid their behaviour escalating.”

Boston’s Neighbourhood Policing Team and Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) offices were also involved in today’s patrols.

The powers used to return these young people to school falls under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Education Act 1996.

Playing truant not only impacts a youngster’s education and has the potential to impact on later life chances.

PCSO Marie Williams, from Boston’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, said, “The ultimate aim here is to keep young people safe. Areas patrolled were targeted based on qualitative and quantitative information and/or intelligence showing areas of increased antisocial behaviour, criminality and areas believed to have a high level of gatherings by those truant from school. Home visits occur when proportionate, especially where casework has been ongoing and identifies a persistent absence, attendance is a cause for concern and /or there is a perceived risk to the child.”

Neil Williams, Vulnerability Intelligence Support Officer, said that initiatives like the patrols help to put measures in place to protect children.

He said: “Being absent from school is just one of several indicators used to recognise children who are considered as potentially vulnerable. Through Op Absence we are putting the stops in place to return unaccompanied children to a place of safety. These initiatives occasionally alert us to other safeguarding issues where we help members of our community navigate broader social challenges”.

Marius Pasu, a Boston Community Ranger, said working as a team and creating these opportunities has enormous benefits.

He said “When we work together, we have a broader picture to be able to offer all the appropriate support to safeguard these young people most effectively. These initiatives help convey the message that we have the support of the Police and other partner agencies. It helps young people to understand the importance of what we are trying to do. There are also many learning opportunities to be had for all partner agencies. We look forward to doing more of it in the future.”

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