ARCH has the update on the insider view of truancy sweeps. Apparently
"1 truant is found for every 82 minutes of police time"
from which we can deduce that it has very little to do with getting kids back into school and everything to do with trying to give them the impression that they shouldn't get out in the first place.
I wonder if it really works that way? My guess is that any half-savvy child with an inclination (or rather a good reason) for truanting, will know where to hide, whilst innocent families, including home educating ones, who don't want to feel guilty and don't want to have to scurry about pretending not to be there, will choose not to go out during school hours. I have to admit: despite knowing there is a low likelihood of being stopped, when we have the choice, we go into town after 15.30.
Yep, it looks as if the truancy sweeps probably don't work any which way you look at it. They don't work because the numbers actually returned to school are miniscule. They don't work as a deterrent because those who are going to truant will find ways to do it that mean they don't get caught and they don't work because they terrify the pants off law-abiding citizens for no good reason at all. They also don't work because the money could be used much more effectively to support the education of a truanting child.
eg: our LA actually does something useful for a change and funds tutors for some kids who refuse to go to school. This has worked very well in some instances we know of.