Authorities are taking a hard line on truancy, with police actively searching for children skiving school.

The number of fines for unauthorised absences in the Braintree district this academic year has already exceeded last year’s total, with 46 penalty notices issued, compared with 38 in 2012/13.

They include 21 for truancy and 25 for holidays taken during term-time.

Last Thursday morning, Sgt Martin Richards, three PCSOs and five education welfare officers patrolled Witham and neighbouring villages, including Kelvedon, Coggeshall, Bradwell, Feering, Silver End, Hatfield Peverel and Terling, in search of truants.

The eight children found were all deemed to have legitimate reasons to be off school, but Mr Richards has warned truancy will not be tolerated.

See today's Witham Times for the full story