Police knock on doors of Doncaster truants in latest crackdown on school absences – police column

Some households in Doncaster had a knock on the door this week from our officers – because their children were not at school, writes Insp Lynne Lancaster.

My officers were out with communities teams from Doncaster Council and educational welfare officers, to go out and visit the homes of children who had not turned up at school, for whom there had been no phone call to explain their absence.

Astrea Academy Woodfields, Balby. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-09-10-18-AstreaWoodfields-1

Astrea Academy Woodfields, Balby. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-09-10-18-AstreaWoodfields-1

We do truancy patrols on a regular basis around the Frenchgate Centre area and the transport interchange, but this was a more targeted approach.

The school rang up to tell us who had not turned up on the day. We were working with Astrea Academy Woodfields, formerly Balby Carr School.

We went round to the addresses of anyone who had not arrived at school, where there was no explanation.

It was the first time we have taken this approach.

When we have patrolled the Frenchgate and the interchange we have found children as young as eight just sitting there. This time we have been more targeted.

Some absences were justified, but the parents had not made a phone call. Some did not know the procedure, including some who are new to this country, and that is something that we are working on to address.

School is not an option – the law in this country is that pupils must go to school unless the authorities have given permission for the child to be home educated.

I’m sure this will not be the last time we do these visits.

We have made a lot of arrests over drugs recently – and this has continued.

Among the latest operations to have been carried out over drugs has been one to target drugs dealing around Doncaster College.

We had been given information that there had been dealers selling the drug ‘spice’ as well as cannabis around the college’s base at The Hub, at Doncaster Waterfront.

We understood people had been selling drugs to the students.

Plain clothes officers have been in the area as part of the operation and the result is that two people have been arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs with intent to supply.

They have been released under investigation.

One of those arrested is a 15 year old boy, the other is an adult.

In total nine people were stopped and searched during the operation.

We are keeping an eye on drugs dealing wherever it happens, not just in the town centre. 

These were not the only complaints of drug dealing that we have received recently, and we made three major cannabis seizures in Hexthorpe in recent weeks.

There were three in two days, at Ramsden Road, Abbott Street, and Stone Close Avenue. Between the three properties, we we seized 400 plants.

Action over drugs is still ongoing. Some people ask why we do it. Some say ‘it is only cannabis’. But we get complaints about people dealing drugs and we must respond to this. It is still illegal.

Operation Shield, the action we are taking on burglary, has been going on for eight weeks now. It has seen us visiting people’s homes and offering to treat their possessions with Smartwater liquid. Each bottle of Smartwater has a unique code that allows us to trace an item that has been treated with it if it is stolen or lost. It means items cannot be sold on.

Since we started Operation Shield, we have seen a 37 per cent reduction in burglaries in the areas where it has been rolled out, compared to the same period in 2017.

This week a resident also asked us to return to mark up his newly purchased Christmas presents, which we were happy to do.

There have been issues about people not calling us back if they have been out when our officers called round. We have now put out a new letter which goes through their doors, making it clear that it is a free service. We have also offered people an email address too, that they can respond to, as well as the usual police number of 101.

Finally, on Friday November 23, a firearm was discharged from a car through a window at a home on Regent Street, in Balby.

We attended the incident, and found there was no one home. Anyone who had been in the house had already left. We are working to find out who was there, and who was responsible, and this is still under investigation. We would like anyone who was in the house to contact us to re-assure us that they are safe and well. Two people have been charged and a number of others have been arrested. The investigation is ongoing.