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  • Sara Chitseko

Public sector to be held accountable over rise in serious youth violence

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

Home Secretary, Sajid Javid is said to be considering implementing plans which would hold public sector workers, such as teachers and NHS workers accountable, for failing to report young people at risk of 'gang' activity.

This highlights Sajid Javid's willful misinterpretation of the public health approach to serious youth violence. He said,  "The public health, multi-agency approach has a proven track record and I'm confident that making it a legal duty will help stop this senseless violence and create long-term change" (BBC News, 2019).

What Javid fails to recognise, is that making those working in the public sector accountable for spotting and reporting youth violence could easily make the problem worse. The Royal College of Nursing expressed concerns that obligations to report people involved in violent crime could deter people "from seeking help for fear of being reported" (BBC News, 2019). Issues also arise, as to what sort of behaviour public sector workers would be expected to report and who workers would be expected to report young people to.

It seems the government is attempting to scapegoat public sector workers for the rise in serious youth violence, rather than looking at how their own policies of austerity have curtailed young people's future prospects and ability to feel safe in their communities. This is particularly true for young men and boys that identify as Black, Black British, African, Caribbean and of Mixed Heritage. A Black Caribbean boy on free school meals with special needs is 168 times more likely to be permanently excluded from school, than a white British girl without special needs (Younge, 2019). In Young Offender Institutions, 51% of males aged 15 to 21 identified as being from a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) background, despite only representing 13% of the UK population (Grierson, 2019). Research also shows that 150 children are denied access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) every day (Matthews-King, 2019).

It seems painstakingly clear, that cuts to the services that are supposed to support young people, is contributing to their marginalisation. If the government really cared about the children who are dying as a result of serious youth violence, it would start investing in those that are living.


BBC News. (2019). Plans for teachers to tackle youth crime. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47768631 [Accessed 2 Apr. 2019].

Grierson, J. (2019). ‘There is no silver bullet’: how young BME people suffer under criminal justice system. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/01/we-need-more-black-judges-how-disproportionality-hits-young-bme-people [Accessed 2 Apr. 2019].

Matthews-King, A. (2019). 150 children a day are turned away from NHS mental health services. [online] The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/nhs-mental-health-services-children-turn-away-day-vulnerable-nspcc-study-a8047401.html [Accessed 2 Apr. 2019].

Younge, G. (2019). The British state has given up on the children who need it most | Gary Younge. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/16/austerity-british-state-children-special-needs-mental-health [Accessed 2 Apr. 2019].