Surge in fines for parents in Cambridgeshire whose children do not attend school

10:45 21 March 2014

Shire Hall, Chambridge.

Shire Hall, Chambridge.

Archant

The number of fines being issued to parents whose children do not attend school has increased dramatically in Cambridgeshire.

Since the start of the 2013-4 school year, which still has five months to run, Cambridgeshire County Council has dished out 79 fines to parents for taking their children out of school for unauthorised holidays or other unauthorised absences.

This represents a substantial increase on the 32 fines handed out in the entire 2012-13 school year and the 31 fines issued in 2011-12.

The most fines issued in a month was 26 last November, with 18 handed out in October and 16 dished out in January.

The total value of this school year’s fines is £3,000, with 46 £60 fines and two £120 fines having been paid.

Seven cases have led to prosecution but no parents have received prison sentences or suspended sentences.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: “Headteachers and the county council take regular school attendance very seriously, and schools in Cambridgeshire are continuously working together to identify common solutions.

“The local authority works closely with schools and academies on early intervention with parents and families, and only use enforcement action as a last resort.

“A change in the law means the number of penalty notices now being issued has increased – in line with other authorities across the country.

“However, unlike other authorities, Cambridgeshire does not issue on the spot fines, but prefers instead to give warnings to those without a history of poor attendance.

“A penalty notice is an alternative to prosecution and sends out a clear message to parents, while at the same time preventing them getting a criminal record.”

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