SCYJ responds to Home Office consultation on new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence

SCYJ has responded to the Home Office consultation on a new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence.

We support a public health approach to tackling serious violence which seeks to address its root causes and welcome the government’s acknowledgement of the need to shift focus from a punitive response towards a multi-agency, more preventative approach. We welcome the intention to encourage organisations to share information, data and intelligence, and work in concert rather than isolation to identify children at risk as early as possible.

However, we do not believe that the proposals contained in this document amount to a public health approach. We are concerned there would be a number of unintended consequences for both children and the agencies involved if a statutory ‘public health duty’ is created, without achieving the desired result of reducing the number of children harmed by serious violence. SCYJ’s key objections to the proposal to create a legal duty are:

  • A vision for tackling serious violence which is limited to the scope of the Serious Violence Strategy does not represent a holistic approach to protecting children from harm, which can consider the full range of partners and interventions needed, as well as the structural, political and economic factors that contribute. A broader strategy is needed which equips the safeguarding system, statutory and voluntary services to protect children from harm outside the home, with resources and guidance to do so. This should embed a response that takes account of the context in which children are at risk and is trauma-informed. A duty for serious violence, which presents these issues as distinct from wider safeguarding duties, could lead to a more punitive approach to these children which evidence suggests is inadequate to reduce violence.
  • Implementation of a new duty without additional resources or definitive guidance is wholly inappropriate for services already tasked with rising demand, crisis management options, and low retention of staff.
  • The potential consequences of a new duty in this context have not been fully considered, both for the organisations involved and children affected, including how the duty will fit within other recent policy such as Knife Crime Prevention Orders; and the impact on racial disparity.

SCYJ’s preferred option would be for the government to support voluntary approaches to multi-agency working, which leaves room for flexibility and adaptability, to ensure resources are directed most efficiently, reflective of and responsive to local needs.

Read our full response here.

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SCYJ response to Justice Select Committee inquiry on court reform

SCYJ responded to the Justice Select Committee inquiry into the Access to Justice impacts of courts and tribunals reform.

Our response focuses on the HMCTS Reform Programme in the criminal courts as it affects child defendants, especially on the use of video links and online pleas.

We believe the use of video links and online pleas, along with the closure of courts, will negatively impact access to justice for children in trouble with the law. We are concerned by the approach taken by HMCTS, such as the lack of research, impact assessment, information sharing, public consultation and stakeholder engagement on key elements of the reform programme. When the programme began there appeared to be a complete lack of consideration of the needs of children as a distinct and vulnerable group, although we believe they are now taking some steps to address this.

Read our response here.

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SCYJ welcomes new members in 2019

The SCYJ has welcomed four new organisations as members in early 2019: Street Doctors, Safer London Foundation, Centrepoint and the Justice Studio.

StreetDoctors is a charity that changes the lives of high risk young people by giving them the skills they need to deliver life-saving first aid. They use first aid as a tool to educate and empower young people, giving them the confidence and a sense of responsibility for their actions, helping to change their attitude towards violence. More information here.

Safer London is the leading London charity working to prevent and address gang violence, vulnerability and sexual exploitation. They provide needs led intensive support, early intervention and mentoring through our extensive, pan London services. You can find out more here.

Centrepoint is the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity. Together with their partners, they support more than 10,000 homeless young people each year. Centrepoint help vulnerable young people by giving them the practical and emotional support they need to find a job and live independently. More information here.

The Justice Studio provide intelligence services to enable unions of nations, governments, and not-for-profit organisations better promote social justice. Their objective is to champion the rights and voices of their clients’ beneficiaries, including children and young people, those in the criminal justice system and those facing discrimination or inequitable situations. You can find out more here.

The SCYJ and our existing members look forward to collaborating with these organisations to promote more effective responses to children in trouble with the law.