Whoa, am I slow to catch on! So I had heard about the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, 2005, but I had failed to register exactly what this could mean for Home Educators. This Act made significant changes to police powers of arrest - OK, it was over a year ago but it is only now sinking in; the power of denial, perhaps? Anyway, from link above:
"The term 'arrestable offence' ceased to have effect as, bar a few preserved exemptions, one power of arrest now applies to all offences. Where the threshold of an arrestable offence was previously used to enable specific powers of search or powers to delay certain entitlements, these powers are preserved, but the threshold is changed to that of an indictable offence."
A lawyer specialising in HE law advices that it is therefore legally possible for an officer who suspects that we might be committing the offence of not securing the attendance of our children in school, to arrest us, though in salutary fashion, he adds that it is probable that the police would be reluctant to use their powers in this way, as long as we stay nice and polite.
However, part of dealing easily with truancy patrols without feeling that the privacy of the family had been violated, was the general consensus in HE circles that you did not need to provide personal details to the police. This however, could now unequivocally lead to problems:
"For police officers, one or more of the following criteria now have to be fulfilled before an arrest can be made:
*To enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person's name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name)
*As reason 1 but in respect of the person's address".
Doesn't look good, really. Am off with the kids to go hide in the woods.
Ah it seems not so slow to catch on, afterall. The Act actually only came into effect from Jan 2006, so it's effects are likely to only be felt from now on! Seems our lunch with the police (see comments below) may not have been a reliable indicator of how things will go...?
Fluffy doggie story to follow!