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Labour has no police plan to tackle truancy

Simon Power National Party Law & Order Spokesman

16 June 2006

Labour has no police plan to tackle truancy

National's Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power, is concerned that the Government doesn't appear to have a national strategy for police to combat truancy.

He is releasing answers to a parliamentary question that shows police do not keep statistics for the number of truancy operations or the number of truants apprehended.

"We know that police truancy operations are run on an occasional basis at the district level, and they are to be commended for that.

"If the Government had a truancy policy for police, then they would have statistics on this and we would know how big the problem was and how effective police were.

"The Police's National Youth Policing Plan 2005-2006 mentions 'truancy' only once, and then only in a diagram listing risk factors for youth.

"Any Government serious about tackling youth offending knows that the best way is to ensure, first and foremost, that kids get a good education. And the best way of ensuring that is to make sure they are at school.

"Chief Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft has made the point many times that education is the ultimate crime-fighting tool, and this is hardly surprising when we know that 52% of prisoners have no qualifications of any sort.

"Judge Becroft, talking on the need for a national database to track truants, has also said: '... while not every such person offends, all offenders come from that group'.

"Despite promising a national student database to combat truancy for three elections in a row, Labour still cannot tell us how many children are missing out on their best chance to escape a criminal life.

"It is high time for the Government to live up to its 1999 and 2002 pledge card promises to crack down on youth crime."

ENDS

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