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The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has written to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, to highlight his concerns around the number of young people being absent from school and the increased likelihood of them becoming involved in criminal activity.

The PCC has concerns about children who are vulnerable to radicalisation due to the ‘perfect storm’ of being absent from school because of the impact of Covid-19 and rising volumes of extremist content online.

In the letter, David Jamieson stated that: Evidence so far suggests that whilst a number of students are not in school for legitimate reasons a disturbing minority of children have not re-engaged with their education following the re-opening of schools after lockdown. For example, I am told that the week before last just 76.3% of children attended school in Birmingham – nearly one quarter of children were absent.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis the Commissioner has repeatedly raised concerns about the vulnerablility of young people who are not in school. His letter calls for decisive action from the government to keep them safe.

The PCC also listed five asks of the Secretary of State for Education:

1) Your department urgently reviews school attendance and works with schools, colleges and local authorities to address the issue of the vulnerability of non-attendees,
2) That your department liaise with CT policing to get an understanding of the scale of risks to young people from radicalisation,
3) That supporting schools to improve attendance becomes a key priority for your department,
4) That you give an update on the implementation of the Timpson review into school exclusions.
5) You ensure schools have the resources to provide an appropriate level of pastoral support to help children and families work through social challenges and vulnerabilities.

Read a full version of the letter here.

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