PARENTS who take their child out of school in Southend to go on holiday are not being fined, figures have revealed.

Essex County Council fined 3,165 parents in 2016/17 for taking their children on term-time holidays, up from 1,850 in 2015/16.

However, in comparison Southend Council issued no fines whatsoever last year and only 43 the year before.

James Courtenay, Southend councillor responsible for education said the council was able to take an individual approach to each case rather than instantly fining parents.

He said: “It is our starting point to talk to the parents.

“It is one of the benefits of having a relatively small amount of children we are responsible for in that we are able to look at it on a case by case basis. What use is a fine to a child’s education?

“It is also true that headteachers’ views differ, so one may find a holiday acceptable while others do not.

“At the end of the day there will be times where you will have to take action and use the full force of the law, but we don’t want to start by getting into fights with parents.” Parental fines for those taking their children on term-time holidays without school permission were introduced in 2013.

The figures have shown many parents are still risking the £60 fine, which increases to £120 if unpaid, in order to stay away from holiday price hikes during school holidays.

If the fine is not paid, parents risk a further £2,500 fine and even a jail sentence if the case is taken to court. The figures showed Essex County Council took 101 parents to court for the offence in 2015/16, and the figure reduced to 76 in 2016/17.

County Hall took £87,900 in fines from parents in 2015/16 and £165,360 the following year.

In contrast, Southend Council did not prosecute any parent for the offence in either year.

The data was collected by Freedom of Information requests by the International Currency Exchange.

It showed Essex County Council came 6th in a national league table of councils who issued the most fines in 2016/17.

Ray Gooding, county council member for education, said: “Parents have a legal duty to ensure regular school attendance for their children who are registered at a school.

“There are clear links between attendance and attainment, and every lesson really does count.

“The Government has made it very clear that headteachers should not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. We will continue to take the action needed to protect the education of the county’s pupils.”