POLICE in Accrington have launched a crackdown on schoolchildren who play truant.
Police and education welfare officers carried out a truancy sweep in the town centre on Tuesday as part of an ongoing campaign to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in Hyndburn.
Seventeen youngsters were stopped, of whom only six had authorised absence from school. Two were taken home by police for drinking, and details of the others were taken and their parents will be contacted.
Funded by Hyndburn Community Safety Part-nership, Operation Taurus runs throughout March and involves the work of a number of agencies incl-uding the police, fire service, local authority and DVLA.
Highly-visible patrols, test purchasing operations, the removal of abandoned vehicles and truancy sweeps are just a few of the activities planned as part of the campaign.
Schools Liaison Officer PC Rob Flanagan said: "Research has shown that children who are not in school are most vulnerable and are easily drawn into crime and anti-social behaviour.
"Operations such as this are a good way of bringing together a number of agencies in a joint effort to tackle truancy and we will be carrying out similar operations in the future.
"I urge both parents and children to make sure that schooling is a top priority and I hope that this operation acts as a warning that anyone playing truant will be caught and made to face the consequences."
Councillor Brian Roberts, chairman of the community safety partnership, added: "This a great example of local agencies coming together to tackle the issue.
"We aim to send out the message that education is vitally important for our young people and that truants will be caught out."
This comes as part of a national neighbourhood policing campaign, A name in every neighbourhood – keeping the promise, which aims to raise awareness of neighbourhood policing teams and how they work with other agencies to improve the quality of life for members of the community.