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Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000

School attendance: Section 72

48.The Social Exclusion Unit’s report of May 1998, Truancy and Social Exclusion, noted the important role that parents play in ensuring their children attend school and it stressed that the more serious the problems, the greater the need for more serious sanctions. In Autumn 1999, the Department for Education and Employment undertook a consultancy exercise entitled Tackling Truancy Together which included the proposal to raise the level of penalties for parents convicted of school attendance offences.

49.Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 provides that if a registered child of compulsory school age fails to attend school regularly, his parent is guilty of an offence. A parent convicted under this Section is liable to a fine up to level 3 on the standard scale – currently up to £1,000. Even when prosecuted, 80% of parents currently fail to attend court. The new provisions create a new aggravated offence committed where a parent fails without good reason to secure their child’s attendance at school even though they know that he is not attending. In these cases the court will be able to impose a fine up to level 4 – i.e. a fine of up to £2,500 – or if it thinks appropriate a prison sentence of up to 3 months.

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