PARENTS whose children are found wandering town centres in school time will be handed £50 fines in a new anti-truancy blitz.
The month-long clampdown, which started today, will see teams of police and truancy officers targeting shopping centres and other truancy hotspots in Huddersfield.
Police will be challenging the youngsters for a valid reason for not being in school and truants will be returned to school or a place of safety.
Parents face the threat of £50 fines if they refuse to improve their child's attendance.
They will also be offered parenting courses to help with getting their children to class on time as well as counselling and support sessions.
Since starting truancy sweeps in 2002 more than 4,000 children have been apprehended by teams of police and education officers in regionwide crackdowns.
Nearly £1bn has been spent on cutting truancy over the last seven years.
A National Audit Office report published in January said nearly 500,000 of the 6.7m state school pupils were absent every day.
But the vast majority of these absences are authorised for health reasons.
Clr Geoff Alvy, Kirklees Council Cabinet member for education, said: "Anything which gets children into school is the right way forward.
"However I don't like the idea of fining parents unless it is the very last resort because some of these parents are the ones who can least afford it.
"Kirklees' record on truancy is improving and we are better than the national average, but if there is still a child who should be in school and isn't we will do whatever we need to do."