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BASW statement on Serious Youth Violence inquiry

We agree that the new Prime Minister should take personal responsibility’ for reducing serious youth violence

BASW England recognises the points raised in today’s publication from the Home Affairs committee of their inquiry into serious youth violence and agrees with many of its recommendations.

The report, available to read here, highlights a number of issues driving up rates of serious youth violence, including that many young people are increasingly rejected by the education system or placed in part-time alternative education provisions – which we feel is no substitute for proper full-time education and heightens their vulnerability to various forms of exploitation.

From a social work perspective, BASW England feels we need to urgently address the ongoing separation of criminal justice from social work.

Examples of this include: the splintering of the Probation Service (which is hopefully being addressed); the separation of Youth Offending Teams from children’s services; the specialisation of education and training for both services; the lack of youth justice content in social work training and the purely punitive impact of ‘rehabilitation’ programmes.

This fragmented approach is fundamentally flawed and damaging for everyone. Criminal justice (in its broadest sense - with adults and young people) and social work are intrinsically linked.

We need to rekindle the relationship between criminal justice, social work and community cohesion to improve outcomes.

BASW England’s views are:

  • We agree with the recommendations in the Home Affairs Committee report and the proposal for the new Prime Minister to take ‘personal responsibility’ for reducing serious youth violence.
  • We agree the Serious Youth Violence Strategy is an inadequate primary response.  For the strategy to be of value there needs to be meaningful investment in youth services, early intervention, crime prevention and social work provisions. Extra funding is needed to improve capacity and resources across all frontline services - not just law enforcement.
  • We endorse the ‘Youth Service Guarantee’ scheme (with ring-fenced funding and enhanced provision for above-average-risk areas).
  • We agree the Government should provide a list of national leaders and to implement a process for consistent data collection by the end of September.  Major reforms are needed to overhaul and redevelop policy, practice and education in relation to criminal justice and youth justice in England. We need to utilise youth workers and reformed gang members (and convicted offenders) from troubled communities.
  • It is essential to provide more comprehensive training to multi-agency staff around the issues surrounding knife crime and serious violence so that they know what to look out for and how to address concerns.

Further information