§ Mr. Watson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent study he has made into the link between truancy and street crime. 766W
§ Mr. Denham
The study 'Young People and Street Crime' published by the Youth Justice Board on 9 January shows clearly that young people involved in street crime offences are more likely to have been disruptive in school and to have had a high level of absence through truancy or exclusion. This adds to the existing evidence to show that truancy and exclusion can increase the risk of offending. The 2002 Youth Justice Board Youth Survey showed that 44 per cent. of young people who admitted to offending in the last year had also played truant.
The Government are taking action to reduce levels of truancy. Specific measures include the Behaviour Improvement Programme, covering over 700 schools, to improve pupil behaviour and reduce truancy and exclusions; the police and schools working together to conduct truancy sweeps; the deployment of an additional 100 police officers to work in schools; and increased powers to deal with the parents of persistent truants, including the piloting of new fast-track prosecution procedures.