Education welfare officers from Bracknell Forest Borough Council and officers from Thames Valley Police will be carrying out truancy patrols across the area as part of a national campaign.

They will be concentrating on Bracknell town centre, the Meadows shopping centre in Sandhurst and a number of other locations.

During the last two-week national truancy sweep in May, 38 secondary school and 29 primary school pupils were stopped in Bracknell town


The majority of these pupils were with their parents.

Tony Eccleston, director of education for Bracknell Forest, said: "In Bracknell Forest the attendance rate is 93 per cent in secondary schools and 95 per cent in primary schools, which means that our attendance is above the national average.

"However, this still means that every day a significant number of Bracknell Forest's pupils are out of school and missing out on their education.

"Sometimes this absence is legitimate but there are instances where pupils are out of school for no good reason.

"We already work with the police to do a truancy patrol on a monthly basis.

"If we see parents with their children out of school then we will stop them and explain what we are doing.

"If children are found on their own, then their parents are contacted.

"We welcome the national attention that this issue is getting."

PC Steve Crawley, Bracknell youth and schools officer, will be taking part in the Government-initiated truancy patrol.

He is usually involved in reducing truancy levels by talking directly to children in schools and making home visits when youngsters are absent.

He explained one of the biggest concerns is with the definition of a truant: "Part of the problem is finding out whether the child has a genuine reason for being off school.

"It is vital parents always write a letter to confirm their child's absence."

The welfare department of the Local Education Authority is the lead agency involved and will be solely responsible for issuing any punishment for the parents of children playing truant.

PC Crawley added: "Statistics prove that if young people are not in school there is a greater likelihood of them committing a crime."