'Putting the stops in place' - Specialist task force targets almost 40 truant teens in Boston

Members of Op Absence, ready to tackle truancy in Boston.Members of Op Absence, ready to tackle truancy in Boston.
Members of Op Absence, ready to tackle truancy in Boston.
A specialist task force has been targeting truancy in Boston.

‘Op Absence’, as the task force is known, was on patrol around the town yesterday (Tuesday, May 7), looking out for children not at school or an education setting.

A multi-agency team, it comprises representatives from Boston’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, education welfare officers from four local schools (Boston High School, Giles Academy, in Old Leake, Haven High Academy, in Boston, and Thomas Middlecott Academy, in Kirton), Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police.

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A number of home visits were also made during the day to addresses of persistent absentees.

Sgt David Robinson, who oversaw the operation, said: “Truancy from school impacts on young people’s education and future. Whilst being absent without authorisation young people can be influenced in a negative way by peer groups. There is often no appropriate adult oversight and their whereabouts are unknown.

“Young people are at risk of being groomed into broader criminal activity as well as being persuaded to behave in an antisocial manner. This in turn can have an impact on members of our community through making some of the more vulnerable people feel uncomfortable or even unsafe, rendering them reluctant to freely go about their daily business. We want people to feel safe living in, working in and visiting Boston.

“Work already completed suggests that having this close collaboration between multiple agencies can assist in putting in place interventions to avoid their behaviour escalating.”During the course of the day, the team engaged with almost 40 young people. The engagements were documented and will be followed up by relevant education welfare officers, a spokesman for the operation said.

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Pcso Marie Williams, from Boston’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The ultimate aim here is to keep young people safe. Areas patrolled were targeted based on qualitative and quantitative information and/or intelligence showing areas of increased antisocial behaviour, criminality and areas believed to have a high level of gatherings by those truant from school. Home visits occur when proportionate, especially where casework has been ongoing and identifies a persistent absence, attendance is a cause for concern and /or there is a perceived risk to the child.”

Neil Williams, vulnerability intelligence support officer, added: “Being absent from school is just one of several indicators used to recognise children who are considered as potentially vulnerable. Through Op Absence we are putting the stops in place to return unaccompanied children to a place of safety. These initiatives occasionally alert us to other safeguarding issues where we help members of our community navigate broader social challenges.”

Plans are said to be in place to broaden the scope of the coverage of the operation in the coming weeks and months.

Marius Pasu, a Boston Community Ranger, said: “When we work together, we have a broader picture to be able to offer all the appropriate support to safeguard these young people most effectively. These initiatives help convey the message that we have the support of the police and other partner agencies. It helps young people to understand the importance of what we are trying to do. There are also many learning opportunities to be had for all partner agencies. We look forward to doing more of it in the future.”