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Teachers could soon have legal duty to act against knife crime

By Mark White, home affairs correspondent

Medical professionals, teachers and the police could soon have a..

By admin , in England , at April 1, 2019

By Mark White, home affairs correspondent

Medical professionals, teachers and the police could soon have a legal obligation to act, if they suspect someone is being sucked into knife crime.

The so-called "public health duty" is being considered by the home secretary as part of a series of measures to tackle a recent surge in violence, which has seen knife crime reach record levels.

The government said any changes would be intended to help spot the warning signs that a young person could be in danger, "such as presenting in A&E with a suspicious injury, to worrying behaviour at school or issues at home".

But the proposal could prove highly contentious, as a consultation will assess the extent to which those on the front line will be held to account for failing to prevent a young person getting involved in violence.

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The plans will be discussed in Downing Street today, as more than 100 experts gather for a knife crime summit organised by the prime minister.

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The delegation includes Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Patrick Green from the Ben Kinsella Trust and Baroness Newlove, the victims' commissioner for England and Wales, whose husband Garry was beaten to death by a gang vandalising his car in 2007.

As well as hosting the summit, Theresa May will also meet privately with the families of a number of victims of knife crime to listen to their first-hand experiences.

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The prime minister said: "To bring about lasting change and protect young people from the tragic violence we have seen on our streets, we need to work across society to intervene early and stop them from being drawn into crime.

"Strong law enforcement plays an important role, and the police will continue to have our support on the front line, but we all need to look at what we can do in our communities, and in every part of the system, to safeguard young people.

"That is why our plans to introduce a whole community – or 'public health' – approach are designed to identify more young people at risk."

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It comes a day after Sajid Javid granted police new powers to increase stop and search activity following a spate of stabbings across London and in other main centres of population in England and Wales.

The home secretary said: "Violent crime is like a disease rotting our society and it's essential that all public bodies work together to treat the root causes.

"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.

"I'm committed to ending this scourge and will use all the tools at my disposal to do so."

Javed Khan, from the children's charity Barnardo's, said the Downing Street summit "must look at long-term solutions" and commit public funding to tackle violence.

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