Parents of schoolchildren caught playing truant in Brighton and Hove will be hit with fines of up to £100.

The power to issue fixed penalty notices to parents was awarded to education authorities last year after the Government pledged to boost schools' ability to slash truancy levels.

But Brighton and Hove City Council has not used the powers until now.

Parents in the city will next week be sent an information pack from schools explaining new procedures for the issue of fixed penalty fines for truants.

Fines will be £50 if paid within 28 days or £100 if paid inside 42 days.

Parents will receive a warning before the first fine is issued.

The system will be operated by the council's education welfare officers, who will act on referrals from headteachers or the police.

Schools councillor Pat Hawkes said: "Our education welfare officers will judge each referral on its individual merits, and will continue to work constructively with parents to offer family support and other help."

The council will review the procedures after one academic year.

West Sussex County Council started issuing fines last year and levied 19 in the first 12 months.

In 2003/4, 3,074 of the Brighton and Hove's 11,992 secondary pupils missed lessons at least once, 9,000 out of 25,543 East Sussex pupils played truant, as did 7,032 out of 41,503 West Sussex pupils.