Teachers and their unions have hit out at a government plan to give schools a legal duty to “spot warning signs” of violent crime, warning that the approach risks “scapegoating” school staff who are already under pressure.
Describing violent crime as “like a disease rotting our society”, Home Secretary Sajid Javid published a consultation paper on Monday morning stating that the government’s preferred option is a new reporting duty enshrined in law in England and Wales. This would require schools and NHS professionals to spot warning signs of future criminal behaviour. Watchdogs such as Ofsted would check whether public bodies are complying with the new duty.
Javid said: “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.”
The government’s paper says tackling youth crime is currently held back by “a lack or absence of important elements such as data sharing and intelligence”. It sets out revising cross-agency community safety partnerships as another option, but says the geographical reach of these bodies “might mean they are not the optimum partnership model”.
Gawain Little, a maths teacher and union rep at a school in Norwich, told the Big Issue: “Every school I have worked in has had robust safeguarding procedures that would already pick up the issues he has highlighted. The problem is the lack of support when they are identified.
“I have personally witnessed the decimation of youth services and family support services in the areas I have worked, at the same time as school funding is dramatically cut.