On Thursday in the House of Lords Brian Paddick set out a debate on Knife Crime which covered a great deal of ground. The challenge with such debates is searching through to find the issues that need a particular focus. There were a number of contributions from Conservative Peers but the one that was a formal response from the Government came from Baroness Williams of Trafford who made a number of comments including this one “It is only by working together to tackle the root causes and prevent young people becoming involved that we will see lasting change. That was the underlying theme of the serious youth violence summit hosted by the Prime Minister at the beginning of April. A clear aim of the summit was to help forge a commitment to a multiagency public health approach to tackling serious violence. One immediate outcome of the summit was the establishment of a new ministerial task force, chaired by the Prime Minister, to drive action across government departments, supported by a new dedicated team in the Cabinet Office.”
It is clear to many people including myself that there is a significant need for our Governments, irrespective of which party is in charge to force their various departments to work together more effectively than what happens presently. Not only do we need more effective cross department working, but a great many Departments are full of internal problems. The Home Office is a classic case of this. These problems become most evident when individual departments set out requests or orders for local settings to follow key policy areas in such a manner that conflict exists before the job starts. Of course the irony is that many Ministers would argue that it is local councils that create the problems. However what now counts is how often this new task force meets and what outcomes there are. Let us hope that the members are far wider than simply the Ministers and that the “dedicated team in the Cabinet Office” is capable of making changes.
After all given that we are now at the end of June, so almost three months since the summit, and given that the purpose was to end problems that occur almost every day of the year, it seems reasonable to call for a bit more information than what Susan Williams was able to provide on Thursday!