THE NHS, councils and police are to be legally required to help tackle serious violence by sharing data, intelligence and knowledge, home secretary Sajid Javid announced on Sunday (14).
“Violent crime is a disease that is plaguing our communities and taking too many young lives,” the home secretary said.
“It’s crucial that we all work together to understand what causes violent crime in the first place, so we can intervene early and prevent this senseless bloodshed.
“I’m confident that a public health approach and a new legal requirement that make public agencies work together will create real, lasting long-term change.”
The government will also amend the Crime and Disorder Act to ensure serious violence is an explicit priority for community safety partnerships by ensuring there is a strategy in place to tackle it.
Rather than individual teachers, nurses or other frontline officials, organisations will be held to account if they do not comply with the new duty.
Welcoming the announcement, Patricia Marquis, the Royal College of Nursing director for England, said the new public health duty was “a sensible approach”.
“Our worry when the home secretary first announced these plans back in April was that they proposed a legal duty for individual nurses to try to identify patients at risk of becoming victims of knife crime – which we felt was placing too great a burden on nursing staff, who are already struggling with severe workforce shortages in trying to provide care,” she was quoted as saying.
“We are glad Mr Javid has listened to our concerns and amended his plans.”
Knife crime reached record levels last year, with police in England and Wales recording almost 44,500 offences involving knives or sharp weapons.
More than 22,000 offences of possessing or making threats with blades or offensive weapons resulted in a conviction or caution in 2018-19.
One in five of the culprits was aged between 10 and 17, figures revealed.
The children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said it was “right that knife crime is seen as a public health issue”.
“While this is a step forward, it will not be enough on its own,” she was quoted as saying. “There must be a commitment from the government and new prime minister to drive this through and put the right resources behind it.
“It must not be allowed to wither away after any change at No 10 or the Home Office.”