Queen’s speech 2019: Ministers commit to new knife crime duty for schools

The government will move forward with plans for a duty on schools and other public sector bodies to work together to tackle serious violence, the Queen has announced.

In her speech to the state opening of Parliament, the sovereign announced that “a new duty will be placed on public sector bodies ensuring they work together to address serious violence”.

The government has already confirmed in July its intention to bring in the new duty, but the inclusion of the policy in the Queen’s speech means ministers will attempt to legislate to bring it in during this Parliamentary session.

In April, the Home Office published a consultation on a multi-agency “public health duty”, aimed at ensuring public bodies including schools, social services and hospitals raise concerns about children at risk of becoming involved in serious youth violence, including knife crime.

The proposed new legislation would include a legal duty to report pupils displaying worrying behaviour at school, dealing with issues at home or attending hospital with suspicious injuries, the consultation said.

According to the Home Office, this could also include organisations jointly funding early intervention services and “would be backed up by legislation” to make sure public bodies “work together and are held accountable for preventing and tackling serious violence.”

In its response to the consultation, published in July, the government said there was “clear support” for a new multi-agency approach, but admitted there was “no clear consensus” over what approach ministers should take.

Only 37 per cent of respondents to the consultation said they preferred the option of a legal duty. It was also the option least preferred by respondents from the education and childcare sectors, who favoured a voluntary approach.

Despite this, the Home Office said at the time that it “intends to bring forward primary legislation to create a new duty on organisations to collaborate, where possible through existing partnership structures, to prevent and reduce serious violence”.

Despite speculation that the Queen’s speech would set out firmer plans for a new home education register and the implementation of the “hard” national funding formula, there were no education-specific policies in the address.

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