Tackling serious violence needs real investment in preventative services!
JANUARY 13, 2020
Unite has submitted its response to the Home Office's draft plans for a new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence.
Whilst Unite is supportive in principle with taking a public health approach to tackling serious violence in our communities, it does not think a statutory duty as proposed is the right approach. Unite believes that acute social ills, such as violence, are far better solved through early intervention and prevention, as opposed to costly acute services and the criminal justice system.
A preventative policing strategy involves many vital non-police services such as legal and advice, education, youth work, homeless support, social work, mental health and drug and alcohol services, as well as victim and survivor support organisations e.g. women’s refuges. Many of Unite’s members are specifically involved in these early intervention activities and providing support for people at risk.
Both poverty and inequality are strongly linked to crime. It is therefore imperative that the government’s crime policy is firmly rooted in an economic strategy that prioritises prosperity, driving greater equality and a fairer distribution of wealth.
The Home Office consultation comes on the back of huge cuts to those services best placed to deliver preventative interventions over the last decade. Virtually all sectors of the public sector have been chronically underfunded by this government, and the Coalition before it, yet preventative services such as in public health, police staff, youth work and other local authority funded services have been particularly hard hit. Many local authorities have simply stopped delivering or commissioning services such as school nursing, youth and play work.
Public services in all parts of the country urgently need more funding to deliver the services that our communities rely on. Crucial to this is a fair funding formula that sustainably addresses the significant extra demands in deprived areas and makes sure that resources reach the areas of highest social need. This is clearly not the direction of travel as in the last few months this government has been consulting on several proposals that will do the complete opposite, redistributing funding from poorer areas of the economy to more affluent areas, while shuffling money between public services rather than providing vitally needed additional resources.
Imposing a statutory duty on these services is therefore setting them up to fail, as many are already struggling or failing to meet current statutory duties such as safeguarding.