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Preventing serious violence

Home Office written statement – made on 1st April 2019.

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Photo of Sajid Javid Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Consultation on a new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach to prevent and tackle serious violence

Tackling serious violence is a top priority for the Government. In April 2018, we published the Serious Violence Strategy that set out the need for a multi-agency approach to effective action against serious violence. The Government is today announcing the publication of a consultation on a new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence.

We know that different risk factors can impact on an individual’s vulnerability and susceptibility to becoming a victim or perpetrator of serious violence. These risk factors include domestic abuse, truancy, school exclusions and substance abuse. Evidence suggests that targeted interventions that can help mitigate and protect children and young people against these factors. It is with this in mind that a duty to prevent and tackle serious violence should reinforce an emphasis on early intervention and prevention with young people.

Our vision for a duty is to ensure agencies are focused on and accountable for preventing and tackling serious violence through a multi-agency preventative or ‘public health’ approach. This would include:

o different organisations working together through partnerships to prevent and tackle serious violence as a priority;

o involving and consulting communities and young people;

o regular sharing between agencies of data and intelligence and identify those most at risk of becoming affected by serious violence;

o using that information to develop a programme of early interventions;

o partnerships that are not constrained by organisational, professional or geographical boundaries;

o partners working together to agree joint funding for services;

o using evidence including relevant evaluations to inform decision-making; and

o organisations being held accountable for their work on serious violence, including being subject to inspections.

The Government welcomes responses to the consultation document from the public, those with expertise in working with young people at risk of criminal involvement and/or re-offending or victimisation, those involved in law enforcement and, more generally, the communities affected by serious violence including the voluntary and community sector. This includes relevant professionals, such as those working in social care, education, law enforcement, local government, community safety, youth services, offender management, public health and healthcare; and, in recognition of multi-agency approaches outside England and Wales, we would also welcome responses from across the UK.

The consultation, which launches today, 1 April, will run for a period of eight weeks, closing on 28 May and can be found on the Gov.UK website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D=home-office&publication_filter_option=consultations

This consultation fulfils the commitment for the intention to consult on a new legal duty made by the Home Secretary on 2 October. The other measures announced included the £200 million Youth Endowment Fund and the review of drug misuse.

These measures build on the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy published on 9 April 2018. The Strategy represents a step change in the way we think and respond to serious violence. The approach establishes a new balance between prevention and rigorous law enforcement activity. It shifts our approach towards steering young people away from crime in the first place and put in place measures to tackle the root causes. We believe that the approach set out in the Strategy, with a greater emphasis on early intervention, will address violent crime and help young people to develop the skills and resilience to live happy and productive lives away from violence.

More recently, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 13 March that an additional £100 million funding in 2019/20 will help in the police’s immediate response to the rise in serious knife crime, enabling priority forces to immediately begin planning to put in place the additional capacity they need. The funding will also be invested in Violence Reduction Units, bringing together a range of agencies including health, education, social services and others, to develop a multi-agency approach in preventing knife crime altogether.

The consultation will be placed in the Library of both Houses and an online version will be made available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D=home-office&publication_filter_option=consultations

To help analyse the responses please submit your response using the following online form: https://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/N1VZW/

Stop and Search: Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

The Government is also announcing greater powers for the police to use stop and search to help tackle violent crime. The Government has lifted two conditions set out in the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (BUSSS) regarding use of Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994 powers in seven force areas particularly affected by serious violence.

We have been clear that we support the necessary and proportionate use of stop and search powers to tackle serious violence and are determined to work with the police to crack down on serious violent crime.

Therefore, we are making it simpler for police to use Section 60 (s60) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994. Section 60 powers allow all individuals, within a specific area and for a limited amount of time, to be searched for weapons in anticipation of serious violence without suspicion. Such searches, when used correctly, are an important operational tool that enable forces to dissipate potential violent situations or recover offending items, for example, in anticipation of retaliatory or escalating levels of gang violence.

The Home Secretary chaired a meeting with senior police chiefs from Merseyside, the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester, South Wales, West Midlands, South Yorkshire, and West Yorkshire on 6 March. The officers cited the potential benefits of lifting conditions placed on the use of s60 powers by the government’s Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Introduced in 2014, the Best Use scheme is signed up to by all forces in England and Wales.

The police must be supported to help protect the people, and therefore as of 31 March 2019 we have lifted the conditions placed in these seven force areas particularly affected by knife crime, so as to:

o reduce the level of authorisation required for a Section 60 from senior officer to inspector

o lower the degree of certainty required by the authorising officer so they must reasonably believe an incident involving serious violence ‘may’, rather than ‘will’, occur

This will mean there are 3,000 more officers able to authorise the use of these powers, and forces will feel more confident using them where appropriate- as judgements as to where violence definitely “will” take place can be hard to make.

These changes will be reviewed after six months, and a year - at which point we will decide whether to make these changes permanent and national. The College of Policing will also work alongside forces to create new guidelines on how best the police can engage with communities on the use of stop and search. We will also continue to support the use of stop and search where fair and effective, by all other forces.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1434