LGA response to the Government’s consultation on Serious Violence Reduction Orders, 6 November 2020

Investing in early intervention and prevention initiatives is vital, in order to help prevent serious violent crime, and knife crime. The Youth Endowment Fund is a welcome investment in youth diversionary schemes, but it cannot replace core local government funding in youth services.


1. About the Local Government Association (LGA)

1.1 The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government.

1.2 We are a politically-led, cross party organisation which works on behalf of councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government. We aim to influence and set the political agenda on the issues that matter to councils so they are able to deliver local solutions to national problems.

2 Summary

2.1 Knife crime has a devastating impact on victims, their families and communities. The significant rise in such crimes committed by young people is of enormous concern to local government, and we share the Government’s desire to address this issue.

2.2 Councils are working hard with their partners to tackle all youth crime, including knife crime. The Government’s Serious Violence Strategy and the Offensive Weapons Act have raised important debates about the causes of, and responses to, these crimes.

2.3 Where Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVRO) are introduced, it will be essential to ensure the new orders effectively tackle knife crime and wider serious violent crime. These orders should not contribute to the unnecessary criminalisation of young people and should not therefore apply to under-18s.

2.4 We understand Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) were due to be piloted by the Metropolitan Police in April 2020 but they have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before introducing a separate Serious Violence Reduction Order, it would be useful to know whether the KCPO pilots have progressed and if they have an impact on knife crime and wider serious violent crime.

2.5 We would welcome any further clarity on how the KCPO and the SVRO are intended to be used and how they differ, as it is understood that KCPOs can also be made upon conviction.

2.6 Investing in early intervention and prevention initiatives is vital, in order to help prevent serious violent crime, and knife crime. The Youth Endowment Fund is a welcome investment in youth diversionary schemes, but it cannot replace core local government funding in youth services.

2.7 The youth justice grant should remain at least at its current level in real terms. We also ask for the Government to devolve some of the funding for the National Citizen
Service (NCS) to councils to deliver or commission the services that local young
people want and need.

2.8 As grants to councils have been cut, and the need for child protection work has
increased, many children’s services departments have been forced to cut back the
universal and early help services that can help all children, young people and their
families to thrive.

2.9 It is vital that councils are properly resourced to enable investment in preventative
universal and early help services so that children, young people and their families
can get the practical, emotional, educational and mental health support they need,
as soon as they need it – and before problems escalate.

2.10 The Early Intervention Grant has fallen from £2.8 billion in 2010/11 to £1.1
billion in 2018/19 – reinstating the lost £1.7 billion would provide a significant boost
to early help services and the children and families who need them.

2.11 Evidence shows that young people are more likely to be involved in youth
offending if they have experienced adverse childhood experiences. Where young
people have experienced maltreatment in adolescence, they are far more likely to
be involved in the youth justice system.

2.12 It is clear that those who experience poor quality and traumatic childhoods are
more likely to have poor life outcomes. This demonstrates that investment in
protecting and supporting children and strengthening families is important both in
addressing immediate safeguarding risks and in the longer term, reducing serious
violence.

2.13 Only with the right sustained funding and powers can councils continue to make
a difference to their resident’s lives by supporting families and young people and
helping to tackle serious violent crime in our local communities.

3 Serious Violence Reduction Orders

3.1 The Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) are still due to be piloted by the
Metropolitan police. Before any new orders are introduced, KCPOs should be fully
tested and evaluated to ensure they have a positive impact on tackling serious
violent crime, and do not criminalise younger people.

3.2 If introduced, there should be a review of how these new SVROs are expected to
be applied and work alongside KCPOs and wider community safety legislation.
There should be clear guidance for all relevant agencies, including local
government, on how these new orders will affect current community safety
practices.

3.3 The SVROs should not apply to under 18 year olds. Children are often coerced into
criminal activity and do not feel able to refuse or escape. Children need to be
supported and recognised as victims. A multidisciplinary partnership approach is
needed to support children out of potentially violent, exploitative situations rather
than criminalising them.

3.4 The Government needs to make clear what data requirements and monitoring
there will be of SVROs, and there should be Parliamentary scrutiny of how these
powers are being used. There should be particular scrutiny of how these new
orders had been applied to people with an ethnic minority background.

4 Supporting children and young people

4.1 It is imperative we take a whole systems approach to supporting children and
younger people. Parents, carers, teachers and youth workers are all well placed to
help provide guidance and support for when a young person transitions to
adulthood. If we do not invest fully in children and youth services, we will not be
able to tackle serious violence.

4.2 Funding for YOTs via the Youth Offending Grant has been halved since 2010/11,
from £145 million to £72 million in 2017/18. This undermines their ability to continue
providing strong outreach, preventative and diversionary work to avoid children and
young people coming into the youth justice system in the first place.

4.3 In addition, local authority funding for youth services has been cut by 69 per cent
since 2010/11, from £1.4 billion to £429 million. More than 4,500 youth work jobs
have been cut and 750 youth centres closed. These services can be invaluable in
building trusted relationships with young people so that they can be supported
through difficult times and provided with the right support, when they need it.

4.4 The Home Affairs Select Committee report into serious youth violence published in
2019 has indicated that the rise in youth violence is likely have been associated
with a reduced youth service offer.

5 Disproportionate impact on adults from an ethnic minority background

5.1 The consultation states that SVROs will have an important role in protecting people
from ethnic minority backgrounds from serious violence, but recognises that the
application of the power to stop and search needs to be effectively monitored to
ensure it is not being disproportionately applied, in particular in respect of Black
people

5.2 Year-on-year Home Office statistics show that people from Black ethnic groups are
subject to a disproportionate number of stop and searches. Between 2009/10 to
2018/19 the data showed people from three Black ethnic groups had the highest
rates of stop and search out of all 16 individual ethnic groups.

5.3 In September 2020, the Joint Committee on Human Rights heard evidence that an
estimated “85 per cent of Black people in the UK were not confident that they would
be treated the same as a white person by the police.”

5.4 There should be a full impact assessment of how people from ethnic minority
backgrounds will be affected by the introduction of these new orders. There should
also be formal guidance of how these new orders will be used and full data
gathering on how these orders have been applied. There should be explicit
recognition that people from ethnic minority backgrounds should not be
disproportionately targeted by these orders.

5.5 We would welcome the Home Affairs Select Committee launching an inquiry into
the creation of SVROs and how they relate to the newly created KCPOs. There
should be Parliamentary scrutiny on whether these new orders will
disproportionately or detrimentally affect ethnic minority communities.
 

Contact

Rachel Phelps
Policy Adviser, LGA Safer and Stronger Communities team
Phone: 020 7664 3119
Email: Rachel.Phelps@local.gov.uk