Voice Official Response: Consultation on a new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence
Background: The consultation paper sets out options for supporting a multi-agency or ‘public health’ approach including options for the introduction of a new legal duty and a non-legislative option for partners to work together voluntarily to prevent and tackle serious violence.
Summary: Voice recently surveyed its members regarding incident of violence by pupils against school staff that had been experienced and observed. The results provided some very concerning, but not altogether surprising insights into the issues faced by schools and education settings across the whole of the UK.
Some respondents noted funding being withdrawn – not only from schools directly, but also from services which previously would have supported pupils in schools – counselling services, mental health and emotional behaviour support services – leaving schools to do more, with their own shrinking finances.
There is a problem with serious and violent crime. Schools, colleges, teachers and all those who work to support education will continue to play their role in identifying those at risk under the existing duties placed upon them. However, to legislate to increase workload at a time of funding crisis and staffing shortages is nothing short of reckless and may be the straw to break this camel’s back.
What is needed is a multi-agency approach to “understand the causes and consequences of serious violence, focused on prevention and early intervention, and informed by evidence and rigorous evaluation of interventions”. The success of which relies on “a range of bodies and organisations to work together to tackle this issue”. The most appropriate forum already exists in the guide of Community Safety Partnerships, but they need to be properly resourced and funded to ensure they are all as effective as the best.
Teachers and schools are rightly required to have robust safeguarding procedures to protect children from harm and be safe. This is a duty which schools embrace with vigour. As such, we need to hear less about legislated duty and blame for the “accountable”, and more about collaboration and investment in resources.