The prosecution of parents over their children’s non-attendance at school is increasing.
Official figures show that the number of parents taken to court in England because of children skipping school has risen sharply over the last year.
Growing numbers are being convicted of school truancy offences, facing fines, and in some cases even being sent to jail.
The BBC reports: In 2014, 16,430 people were prosecuted for failing to ensure their children went to school, an increase of more than 3,000 – or 25% – on 2013.
Ministry of Justice figures, obtained by the Press Association, revealed more than three-quarters were found guilty.
Head teachers’ leaders said good attendance was “absolutely critical”.
The rise follows a crackdown on children missing school, including new rules on term-time holidays, which were introduced two years ago.
The 2014 figures, gathered in a freedom of information request to the Ministry of Justice, show:
12,479 people found guilty of truancy offences – up 22%
9,214 fines, averaging £172, issued by courts – up 30%
18 jail sentences in 2014 – compared with seven in 2013
Ten of those jailed and more than half (58%) of those fined for a child missing school were women
Parents can be issued with on-the-spot penalty notices of £60 per child by schools, rising to £120 if unpaid after three weeks, if their child has an unauthorised absence.
Failure to pay, or incurring two or more fines, can lead to parents being referred to the local authority’s education welfare service, which has the power to take them to court.
Courts can issue maximum fines of £2,500 or jail sentences of up to three months.