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Pupils: Absenteeism

Volume 494: debated on Wednesday 24 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many parents in (a) Essex and (b) Castle Point have appeared in court on charges related to the unauthorised absence from school of their child in the last (i) six, (ii) 12 and (iii) 24 months. (281319)

I have been asked to reply

The Department has policy responsibility for school attendance. However, the Ministry of Justice collects and publishes data for England and Wales on prosecutions brought against parents under the Education Act 1996 for the offence under s444(1) of failing to secure their child's regular attendance at school; and for prosecutions under s444(1A), the aggravated offence of knowing that their child is failing to attend school regularly. It is possible, because of the way courts record data, that some section 444 data is also collected under the more general heading of various offences under the Education Act 1996.

The Ministry of Justice collects prosecution data on the basis of police force areas only and not constituency area. Information on the number of parents prosecuted in Essex for failing to secure their children's regular school attendance between 2006 to 2007 (latest available data) is detailed in the table below. Court proceedings data for 2008 will be available in the autumn of 2009.

Number of persons proceeded against at magistrates' courts for offences under the Education Act 1996 S.4441, in Essex police force area, 2006 to 20072,3






1 Includes the following:

(a) Failure to secure regular attendance at school. (Education Act 1996 S.444 (1)(8)).

(b) Parent knows that their child is failing to attend school regularly and fails without reasonable justification to cause him or her to attend school. (Education Act 1996 S.444(8)(1a)(8a) added by Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 S.72).

2 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

3 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.


Evidence and Analysis Unit - Office for Criminal Justice Reform, Ministry of Justice