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Details of a Penalty Notice

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Dear Lancashire County Council,
I am requesting information about Penalty Notices issued for irregular attendance at school.
Can you explain to me when a Penalty Notice is issued for a s.444(1) offence, why it arrives with threats of a fine of up to £2,500 and/or a prison sentence of up to 3 months if it is not paid and a person is prosecuted and found guilty in a Magistrates Court?
The maximum sentence for a s.444(1) offence is a fine of up to £1000, so how can you say if the Penalty Notice is not paid you could recieve a prison sentence?

Yours faithfully,
Mrs Atkinson

Freedom of Information, Lancashire County Council

Dear Ms Atkinson,

 

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

 

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your email dated 10.04.2017, in
which you request the disclosure of information.

 

I can confirm that your enquiry will now be assigned to an officer who
will commence a search for the information you require and they will
respond in due course. The deadline date for issuing you with full
response is 11.05.2017. We will endeavour to provide a response well in
advance of this date, however, should we envisage any delays, or require
more details from you, we will contact you immediately.

 

If you have any queries about the above, please do not hesitate to contact
us, quoting ref. 936.549

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Governance Team

Lancashire County Council

[1][Lancashire County Council request email]

 

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Freedom of Information, Lancashire County Council

Dear Ms Atkinson

 

Further to your email of 10 April, we are now in a position to respond to
your enquiry. I should inform you in the first instance that although
you've written in under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act,
your enquiry is not technically a FOI request as you are essentially
wanting advice rather than access to recorded information held by the
council. However, to be helpful, we can clarify as follows.

 

Our penalty notice indicates that where a parent fails to ensure their
child's regular attendance at school they are guilty of an offence under
Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996.  The penalty notice then gives a
parent the option to discharge liability against prosecution for that
offence by payment of a fine.  The penalty notice also sets out for
parents information regarding the consequences of non-payment. 

 

Where a parent does not discharge liability by payment of a fine, the
authority is required to bring proceedings in the Magistrates' Court for
the original offence referenced in the penalty notice.  Section 444(1) of
the Education Act 1996 includes two levels of offence and in most
instances Lancashire County Council would rely on the lesser offence where
a penalty notice for unauthorised leave remains unpaid.  However, in some
situations the authority might choose to lay an information in respect of
the aggravated offence – for example where a parent repeatedly takes their
child out of school on unauthorised leave. 

 

As such, the penalty notice correctly advises parents of the maximum
potential consequences should penalty notices remain unpaid and the case
proceeds to court.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Governance Team

Lancashire County Council

PO Box 78, County Hall, PRESTON, PR1 8XJ

[1][Lancashire County Council request email]

 

 

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Dear Freedom of Information,
Can you please clarify that if a Penalty Notice stating a S.444(1) offence is not paid then Lancashire County Council can then proceed to Magistrates Court with a s.444(1a) offence?

Yours sincerely,

Tracy Atkinson

Dear Freedom of Information,

Can you please clarfy my last question?
Thankyou

Yours sincerely,

Tracy Atkinson

Freedom of Information, Lancashire County Council

Dear Ms Atkinson,

 

Following on from your further enquiry we can confirm the following.

 

Yes, the penalty notice is issued under section 444A of the Education Act
1996 and advises parents that failure to ensure regular attendance is an
offence under section 444(1) of that act. In the event a penalty notice is
not used to discharge liability against prosecution for an offence under
444(1) the authority has a choice of whether to lay an information under
section 444(1) or (1a).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Governance Team

Lancashire County Council

[1][Lancashire County Council request email]

 

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