In a bid to reduce crime, police are launching a major truancy operation across Auckland targeting young people who are ditching school or not attending alternative education.
In the next two weeks, police will patrol locations where youths are known to congregate during school hours.
Police say there is evidence to suggest that a small number of these children and teenagers are involved in criminal activity. This can range from lower level offences to serious crimes including burglary.
Inspector David Glossop said while truancy itself was not a criminal offence, there was a correlation between truancy and youths being offenders or victims of crime. It was also an indicator that there may be issues at home.
"The majority of our young people across Auckland are in education and are thriving. This operation is about working with our partner agencies to identify those kids who are consistently not attending school and wrap support around them and their families," Glossop said.
"Parents and caregivers play a huge role in the future success of our tamariki and need to take responsibility for ensuring their children are actively involved in education."
Police would be working closely with their partner agencies, including the Ministry of Education and Truancy Service Providers, to ensure plans were in place to keep these youths engaged.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary, sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey underlined the importance of keeping young people in school.
"Attending school is not just the law of the land up until the age of 16, it's also the key to setting our young people up for life," Casey said.
"Getting a qualification is one of the basic building blocks for success and regular attendance at school makes all the difference. For example, a Year 11 student who only turns up at school half of the time has just a one-in-five chance of getting NCEA Level 1. A student who attends every day has about a 90 per cent chance of achieving that qualification.
"That's why it's so important that we, schools, the Attendance Service, police and other agencies work together to support families with children who are skipping school and help them get back on track."