Updated 20 August 2022
1. What are we going to do?
The Serious Violence Duty will require local authorities, the police, fire and rescue authorities, specified criminal justice agencies and health authorities to work together to formulate an evidence based analysis of the problems associated with serious violence in a local area, and then produce and implement a strategy detailing how they will respond to those particular issues. Prisons, youth custody agencies and educational authorities may also need to work with these core partners.
2. How are we going to do it?
We want to reduce violent crime and address the root causes of serious violence across England and Wales by making sure that public bodies work together to stop serious violence.
As a result of this duty the police, local authorities, fire and rescue authorities, and specified health and criminal justice agencies will have to work together to identify and publish what actions they need to take collectively to reduce violent crime, including domestic abuse and sexual offences. Educational authorities, prisons and youth custody agencies may also be required to work with those bodies as a result of this duty. The legislation grants these authorities the power to share data and information with each other for the purpose of preventing and reducing serious violence. We will encourage authorities to place an emphasis on early intervention with young people in order to prevent them from becoming either a victim or perpetrator of serious violence in the first place.
Local areas can be flexible in deciding the geographical extent of their partnership and local areas will be encouraged to use existing multi-agency partnerships where possible. Some partnerships already work well in tackling serious violence and the Home Office wants to build on this good practice so that it is more consistent across England and Wales.
By ensuring that all of these authorities work together in this way, strategies can be put in place to effectively prevent and reduce serious violence and make communities safer.
The increase in serious violence since 2014 proves that more needs to be done to prevent and reduce serious violence. While some partnerships work well, in others there are performance or capability issues. There are many reasons for this including competing priorities, strength of relationships between public agencies, and not enough data and intelligence sharing.
This is not just a policing issue. To be successful in dealing with this threat, all relevant agencies need to focus on and be held accountable for preventing and reducing serious violence in their local area, targeting activity to the people and places most at risk. The new duty is key to achieving this.
Work on the duty has been ongoing since Spring 2019, and consisted of:
- 1 April – 28 May 2019 – the Government consultation on a Public Health Duty for tackling serious violence.
- 15 July 2019 – the Government [response] to the consultation published.
- 19 December 2019 – Government announcement in the Queen’s Speech that a new duty would be brought forward for public sector bodies to address serious violence.
- October – December 2020 – Engagement with key stakeholders on the legislation.
The consultation showed that there was clear support for taking a multi-agency approach to prevent and reduce serious violence. We have taken into consideration the points raised by those who responded to the consultation when developing the policy for the Serious Violence Duty.
4. Frequently asked questions
4.1 Why do we need this new duty?
The duty ensures that serious violence is made a focus within existing multi-agency arrangements, such as multi-agency safeguarding arrangements or Community Safety Partnerships, and allow for collaboration between a much wider set of partners. This duty also introduces a requirement for local partnerships to establish their local problem profile and produce a local strategy specifically aimed at preventing and reducing serious violence.
4.2 Will individuals (e.g. nurses, teachers) be required to report on serious violence issues as a result of this duty?
The new duty is not aimed at individual teachers, nurses, social workers or other frontline professionals. Instead, it is intended to encourage authorities and partners to plan, share data, intelligence and knowledge, to generate an evidence based analysis of the problem and a response strategy with bespoke local solutions.
4.3 Will there be further funding to support this new duty?
The government is investing £130 million in 2022/23 to drive down the most devastating types of crime – including knife crime, gun crime and homicide.
This funding package includes:
- supporting the implementation of the new Serious Violence Duty and Serious Violence Reduction Orders, being brought into law via the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
- an additional £64 million for Violence Reduction Units, supporting the existing 18 and enabling two new units to be established in Cleveland and Humberside
- an additional £30 million into the ‘Grip’ police enforcement programme
We are also providing £200m over 10 years for the Youth Endowment Fund, to test and evaluate what works to ensure those young people most at risk are given the opportunity to turn away from violence and lead positive lives.
4.4 How will this new duty work with Violence Reduction Units?
Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) bring together community leaders and other key partners with police, local government, health and education professionals to identify the drivers of serious violence and develop a response to them. VRUs will ensure there is effective planning and collaboration to support a longer term approach to preventing violence.
The new duty will complement and assist the VRUs in their aim of preventing and reducing serious violence, by providing a strategic platform with the right regulatory conditions to support successful delivery of this multi-agency approach, including through the extended set of partners on whom the duty will fall.