Parents of truants face imprisonment or a
A mother has been jailed for failing to stop her son playing
Karen Simmonds, 34, was sentenced to three weeks' imprisonment
for failing to ensure the nine-year-old attended school regularly.
Ms Simmonds, a single parent from Blacon, Chester, was originally
sentenced in January.
But Chester magistrates deferred its implementation to give the
former barmaid a chance to improve her son's attendance from 50% to
But when she reappeared, the court found she had not co-operated
with social services and the boy had spent just two full weeks in
school since September.
Cynthia Roe, senior education welfare officer for Cheshire County
Council, said: "Taking parents to court is a last resort. But there
is eventually little option if a parent consistently ignores all the
help, warnings and advice they are given.
"While this sentence gives us no pleasure at all, it does
reinforce the message that we are prepared to prosecute parents who
refuse to co-operate."
Last month, a mother convicted of failing to ensure her teenage
son attended school lost a human rights challenge to the truancy law
at the High Court.
Lawyers for Alison Barnfather had argued that "utterly blameless"
parents faced having a criminal record.
But judges ruled there had been no breach of the European
Convention on Human Rights.
An earlier hearing was told that the 1996 Education Act imposed
strict liability and gave parents no defence if their child
Under the government's policy, parents can be fined up to £2,500,
or even jailed for up to three months, for each child's
Last year, Patricia Amos, from Oxfordshire, became the first
parent to be imprisoned over her daughters' persistent truancy.