'Scapegoating teachers and other workers will not solve violent crime' says teachers' union

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is seen outside Downing Street. Source: Reuters
Home Secretary Sajid Javid is seen outside Downing Street. Source: Reuters

Teachers, nurses and police officers have hit back at plans for them to be held accountable for knife crime among young people.

The Home Secretary Sajid Javid launched a consultation for assessing the extent to which those on the front line will be held accountable for failing to prevent a young person in an effort to help tackle the knife crime epidemic.

However, there are fears that this would just be putting more pressure onto people in already challenging jobs.

Ms Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union, said: “It is concerning that a narrative appears to be developing whereby schools excluding pupils are potentially being scapegoated as being part of the problem, with exclusion being cited as a reason for pupils becoming involved in knife crime and gangs.

“Teachers do a great job on a daily basis of managing the behaviour of pupils and maintaining high standards of behaviour, but this has become increasingly difficult.

“There have been savage cuts by Government to local authority funding which has resulted in either the severe reduction or the disappearance altogether of specialist external support, including appropriate referral units on which schools have been able in the past to rely.

“Threatening staff such as teachers, who already have a difficult and challenging job, that they will be held accountable for failing to spot any warning signs of violent crime is an unacceptable response and will simply add to the myriad of government-driven factors which are causing teachers to leave the profession and deterring potential recruits from applying.”

Sara Gorton, head of health at UNISON, the largest trade union in the UK, said: “Health service staff are always committed to serve the best interests of patients and the community, but they are already overwhelmed by the pressures of an underfunded NHS.

“They should not face further burdens and obligations because the government is deflecting attention away from its failure to fund policing adequately.”

According to the government, the plan is intended to “help spot the warning signs that a young person could be in danger, such as presenting in A&E with suspicious injury, to worrying behaviour at school or issues at home”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid 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.”

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