ADCS criticises Home Office plan to tackle serious violence

By Joanne Parkes

| 29 May 2019

Home Office proposals for tackling serious violence offer "nothing significantly transformative" for young people, the Association of Directors of Children's Services states in its written response to the government consultation.

The Home Office's #knifefree campiagn is aimed at young people

Without a significant shift in government policy, as well as funding for early identification of risk, the strategy to deal with violence - including knife crime - may be ineffective, the ADCS suggests.

The ADCS published its response to the Home Office's draft plans for a new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence - a consultation on which closed yesterday.

In it, the association acknowledges the high level of activity on the topic, including national summits, research commissioning and "different pots of funding launched by different government departments".

"However, how all these things fit together is not always clear nor the end goal we're all working towards," it adds.

"The only way to make headway with the complex and interrelated issues at hand is for all parts of the public sector, including government, to work together in a co-ordinated way with voluntary and community groups under the auspices of a holistic public health strategy to make the best use of scarce public funds and boost impact."

It is calling for closer working across government departments and local partners to "better understand and respond to the needs of children and young people".

"The first step should be agreeing what a public health approach or strategy means, there are many different interpretations and consequently a lack of clarity on this point," it adds.

The response continues: "ADCS believes we need to focus relentlessly on the early identification of risks and harms and developing more effective responses to them, but this relies on there being sufficient resources.

"Addressing the root causes of increased vulnerability in children and young people as well as the societal conditions that allow abuse and exploitation to flourish requires a significant shift in policy."

Among the proposals are a controversial duty to be placed on public service workers to raise concerns about children at risk of knife crime.

"Simply placing additional duties, legal or otherwise, on public agencies is not enough and will only tackle the symptoms of violence, not the root causes," the ADCS response states.

It highlights that "all public agencies already have a clear duty to work together to safeguard children and young people and individual professionals, including social workers, teachers and nurses already have ‘due regard' to children and young people's safety and wellbeing".

However, it states of all the options, it prefers "a voluntary, non-legislative approach" which it believes will allow local areas to determine how best to meet local needs.

"If this option is taken forward then ADCS would welcome discussions with the Home Office, and other relevant departments, about the role of government in such an arrangement in terms of facilitation, support and the sharing of learning and good practice," it adds.

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