UNISON condemns government’s violent crime proposals

Pressure on schools and NHS staff to tackle crime is deflecting attention from failure to fund services adequately, union says

UNISON has hit out at the government’s proposals for education and NHS staff to prevent and tackle serious violence.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid launched a consultation on Monday, founded on the belief that multi-agency action is needed to deal with one of the UK’s most urgent problems.

The proposals put an emphasis on early intervention and prevention with young people.

And among the chief questions is whether there should be a “legal duty” on teachers, NHS workers and others in England and Wales to play a part – holding them to account if they don’t.

The consultation launch was quickly followed by Theresa May’s assertion, as she opened the youth violence summit in Downing Street, that: “We cannot simply arrest ourselves out of his problem.”

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton 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.”

And Jon Richards, the union’s head of education, added: “School support staff work with pupils day in and day out. The new proposals could put staff at risk if the bond of trust is broken and young people think staff are spying on them.

“Lumping another duty on staff when their workload is already at breaking point is unrealistic.”

UNISON has launched its own survey of all members in further education colleges in the UK, on the subject of offensive weapons in colleges. The survey asks for members’ experiences and thoughts about how the issues could be tackled.