A TEAM of council officers and police who aim to crack down on truancy found almost 50 students off school in the town centre in one day.

The joint patrol targeted hotspots in the town centre - like the transport interchange, Cheapside  Mandela Gardens and Alhambra Centre.

The aim was to stop and challenge parents with school-age children and unaccompanied children to raise awareness of the importance of school attendance.

In total, 46 pupils were stopped and challenged over their reasons for not being in school; these comprised 23 of primary age, 1 from a private nursery and 22 secondary-aged pupils. Six of the secondary pupils were unaccompanied.

Coun Tim Cheetham, Cabinet spokesperson for People (Achieving Potential), explained: “Where parents claimed their children were not fit for school, discussions took place about the appropriateness of the child being out of the home when unwell.

“All relevant schools were informed by the patrol officers that the parent and child had been stopped so the school could make a decision whether to authorise the child’s absence, or record it as unauthorised. In addition, the school’s education welfare officer was informed so that follow-up action could take place as required.”