Enforce the laws we have
Published at 11:30, Monday, 16 April 2012
Our laws to crack down on truancy aren’t working, according to a government adviser calling for much tougher penalties today.
But look more closely at the problem and the truth takes on a slightly different complexion.
Existing laws to tackle truancy aren’t being fully enforced... there’s a difference.
Charlie Taylor – a man known curiously as the government’s Behaviour Tsar – wants child benefit payments to be docked from parents whose children persistently miss school.
The current system of penalty notices is ineffective, he says, as non-payment of fines rarely leads to prosecution. But if not, why not?
How familiar a story this is. Failure to enforce perfectly good law invariably leads to introduction of new layers of legislation – with no guarantee they will be enforced properly either. Small wonder we’ve become a nation of cynics. We are over-legislated to the point of another new day, another new law.
Both the prime minister and his education secretary have expressed support for tough sanctions for persistent truancy through the benefit system. Figures show that of the 127,000 truancy penalty notices issued since their introduction in 2004, around half were unpaid or withdrawn without prosecution for non-payment.
Will docking benefits do any more than existing systems to reduce absenteeism? Without having properly enforced the laws we already have, how could we know?
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk