Fixed Penalty Notice

Below is the information provided by the London Borough of Sutton relating to Fixed Penalty Notices.

What is the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003?

Section 23 of the Act gives power to the Local Education Authority and other designated bodies to issue Penalty Notices where a parent/carer is considered capable of, but unwilling to, secure an improvement in their child's school attendance.
The powers came into force on the 27th February 2004.

Why has it been introduced?

Reducing absence from school is a key priority nationally and locally because missing school damages a pupil's attainment levels and disrupts school routines, affecting the learning of others. It can also leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime.
Above all, missing school seriously affects children's longer term life opportunities.

What is a Penalty Notice?

Under existing legislation, parents/carers commit an offence if a child fails to attend school regularly and the absences are classed as unauthorised (those for which the school cannot or has not given permission). Depending on circumstances, such cases may result in prosecution under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.
A Penalty Notice is an alternative to prosecution, which does not require an appearance in Court, whilst still seeking to secure an improvement in a pupil’s attendance.

What are the costs?

Payment within 21 days of receipt of a Penalty Notice is £60 and £120 if paid after this but within 28 days.

How are they issued?

By post to your home address.

When are they used?

The London Borough of Sutton considers that regular attendance at school is of such importance that Penalty Notices may be used in a range of situations where unauthorised absence occurs :

  • Overt truancy (including pupils found during truancy sweeps).
  • Inappropriate parentally-condoned absence.
  • Excessive holidays in term time or excessive delayed return from an extended holiday without prior school permission.
  • Persistent late arrival at school (after the Register has closed).

In every case a pupil will have had a minimum of 10 school sessions (i.e. 5 school days) lost to unauthorised absence during the current term before a Penalty Notice is considered.
The Authority never takes such action lightly and would far rather work with parents/carers to improve attendance without having to resort to any enforcement actions. Education is of such importance, however, that the Authority will use the powers if this is the only way of securing a child's regular attendance at school.

Is a warning given?

The normal response to a first offence will be a written warning rather than a Penalty Notice. However, the Authority has the discretion to issue a Penalty Notice for a first offence, without warning, in exceptional circumstances. This could be where the parent/carer has chosen to take their child on holiday without prior authorisation by the school.

Is there an appeal process?

There is no statutory right of appeal once a Penalty Notice has been issued.

How do I pay?

Details of payment arrangements will be included on the Penalty Notice. You need to be aware that payment in part or by instalment is not an option with Penalty Notices.

What happens if I do not pay?

You have up to 28 days from receipt to pay the Penalty Notice in full, after which the Authority is required under the Act to commence proceedings in the Magistrates Court, for the original offence of failure to ensure your child's regular attendance at school.
If proven, parents/carers can be fined up to £2,500 each depending upon circumstances.
The Court is also able to impose other sanctions such as Parenting Orders or Community / Custodial Sentences etc.