'Legal duty' to report knife crime is government 'passing the blame'


Forensics teams work at the scene of a stabbing in Edmonton, London

Monday, April 1, 2019

Teachers, nurses and police officers could be held accountable for failing to "spot warning signs" of violent crime among young people, under government plans announced today.

The idea of a "public health duty" was floated by home secretary Sajid Javid, in an effort to create a "multi-agency approach" to tackling knife crime.

However Youth Violence Commission chair Vicky Foxcroft MP criticised the idea for "passing the blame" to teachers and healthcare professionals without providing "proper resources".

Speaking to talkRADIO's Matthew Wright, the Labour MP said: "I don’t think the tone is right, and when we talk about a public health approach it should be everyone working together.  

"We shouldn't be saying 'we haven't handled this right, so we're going to pass the blame and responsibility to you'."

The government said the plans would help spot warning signs that a young person could be involved in knife crime, "such as presenting in A&E with a suspicious injury, to worrying behaviour at school or issues at home".

A consultation will assess the extent to which those on the front line will be held to account for failing to prevent a young person getting involved in violence, a Home Office spokesman said.

The move comes just a day after Mr Javid handed the police new powers to increase stop and search activity, following a spate of bloodshed across the country since the start of 2019.

More than 100 experts will meet this week to discuss the new measures and a further plan of action, including Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick and Baroness Newlove, the victims' commissioner for England and Wales, whose husband Garry was beaten to death by a gang vandalising his car in 2007.

Mr Javid said: "Violent crime is like a disease rotting our society and it's essential that all public bodies work together to treat the root causes.

"The public health, multi-agency approach has a proven track record and I'm confident that making it a legal duty will help stop this senseless violence and create long-term change."


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