POLICE have vowed to continue their crackdown on truants after a two day purge last year slashed crime by 30 per cent.

And Inspector Dale Allen has warned parents who condone their child's absence from school that their tolerance will be not be accepted.

Insp Allen told a meeting of Hyndburn's councillors that cracking down on truancy was one of his top priorities as his team set about cutting crime in Hyndburn.

Last October, teams of officers spent two days picking up youngsters in Accrington who should have been in school. Those who were on their own were taken to the New Era centre before being returned to school. But more than 100 were actually with their parents -- many of who refused to tell the police why their youngsters were off school.

Insp Allen said: "On those two days, we reduced crime by between 20 and 30 per cent. We only targeted Accrington town centre, but we saw a reduction in crime for the whole borough.

"This proves to us a link between crime and truancy and we are looking to repeat the operation in other parts of the borough as well." He added: "The parents who said their children's school attendance had nothing to do with us fail to appreciate that by condoning truancy they are exposing their children to unnecessary risks.

"Truants tend to be on the fringes of crime but they could become more involved if they are not stopped. One of the youngsters who was returned to school in the morning chose to abscond again and was arrested for shoplifting in the town centre in the afternoon."

The council-police partnership was pioneered by Insp Allen in Blackburn last year, where 150 youngsters were stopped. It became possible after the new Crime and Disorder Bill was introduced, which contains Section 16, concerning truancy.