MOUNTED police are to patrol parks in Wrexham to crack down on youngsters playing truant from school.

Officers have vowed to tackle the problem after recently swooping to catch 10 youngsters skipping school in the space of an hour and a half.

The plan is for mounted officers to provide a visible presence across the whole of Wrexham to catch school children who should be in school.

PC Paul Davies, who is heading Operation Validity, said police have the power to take the children back to school.

“Once we get them back in school the truancy co-ordinator from the council will take over,” he said.

“Equally if we see children with their parents we will go over and speak to them.”

Operation Validity will see mounted police patrolling hot spot areas such as Bellevue Park, Acton Park and Erddig.

PC Davies added: “Cracking down on truancy is important – maybe some dislike school but maybe this will help find the reasons why the kids do it.

“To find 10 playing truant within an hour and a half is quite high and it needs to be tackled.

“The horses are very visible and having them makes it easier to patrol bigger areas such as parks.”

Acton councillor Geoff Lowe said: “I know the police have been working hard to solve the problem.

“I think schools need to keep alert to it.

“I’m concerned that some of the truants are those at risk and I think it needs to be dealt with.”

Ysgol Rhosnesni is among the schools which have been combating truancy by the introduction of computer-based electronic registration at the start of every lesson.

Headteacher Gareth Hughes said: “The key to success in this area is in having a robust monitoring system and the development of close working relationships between the school, parents, support services and the Police Safer Communities Team so that individual pupils can be identified.”

Wrexham Council’s chief prevention and inclusion officer Clare Field said: “Wrexham Council, in partnership with North Wales Police, has a robust policy to combat truancy.

“As part of the initiative, education social workers and police offers take part in truancy patrols throughout the county borough twice a week.

“As part of Truancy Week, March 15-20, the initiative will see an increased presence throughout the week.”

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