TRUANCY is to be the focus of a multi-agency crackdown in the Basingstoke area.

Hampshire County Council and partners, including community safety teams and the police, will step up their support in the borough as part of the Supporting (Troubled) Families initiative.

Six ‘Attendance Days’ will be held throughout the year in a multi-agency effort to reduce absence from school and promote the importance of good school attendance.

The work builds on a successful attendance week held in October last year, when there was a 25 per cent reduction in absence rates compared to the same week in 2012.

At the request of schools, those involved in the campaign will visit the homes of children who have not turned up to school and whose absence has not been reported by their parent or carer.

The aim of the home visits is to establish if there are any underlying reasons why a child may be consistently absent from school and identify professional support for the child and their family, as appropriate, which could help ensure significant improvement in the child’s attendance at school.

Checks will also be made in shopping centres, parks and other recreational areas where young people may congregate when they are playing truant.

When a pupil is caught being truant, their details will be taken and a letter will be sent to the family home explaining the legal implications.

Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s executive lead member for children’s services, said: “In line with the rest of the country, Basingstoke and Deane has good school attendance rates compared to national averages but, just as in other areas of the country, there is a very small minority of children who are persistently absent from school.”

He added: “Regular school attendance is crucial to helping ensure a child has the best possible start in life. Children who miss school frequently for reasons other than serious illness are at greater risk of falling behind with their studies and not achieving as well in their exams as their peers.

“This in turn can have a negative impact on their future and restrict the range of choices open to them for further education, training and employment.”