An operation to remove truants from Perth streets has found almost half of the youths intercepted in the past six weeks are known to police as victims or offenders.

Operation Redirect started when school resumed on July 24.

By yesterday, officers had intercepted 79 youths, with almost 40 of them identified as persons of interest to police in more than 230 offences, including more than 150 property crimes.

Police also found almost two-thirds of the truants were girls, most were aged between 13 and 14 and one was younger than 10 - believed to be a nine-year-old girl.

Only one child has been intercepted more than once.

"Children obviously should be at school, and if they're not at school, they're at some risk to either themselves or the community," WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said.

"Redirect is designed to get those kids back to their school or back to their parents and into a safe place."

Redirect came after a similar effort dubbed Operation Safe Place that was launched late last year to intercept children wandering Perth streets unaccompanied at night.

That operation was launched after Mr O'Callaghan released figures showing juveniles were responsible for more than half of all property crime in WA.

Under Redirect, officers have been asked to speak to school-age children found on the streets in school hours.

If the student does not have a legitimate reason to be away from school, officers contact a duty patrol commander, who contacts the school to organise for the youth to be returned.

Officers also provide their names so parents can make contact if they want to learn more about what the youth had been doing.

Education Department director-general Sharyn O'Neill said she was pleased with early results from Redirect, which is part of a bigger program to boost student attendance.

The West Australian

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