Doctors may have to report people vulnerable to knife crime

Author: Ingrid Torjesen
Doctors may have to report people vulnerable to knife crime

The government is considering making it a legal obligation for hospital doctors to raise concerns about children at risk of becoming involved in knife crime.

The plans for a “public health duty” are part of a consultation on how to tackle serious crime launched by home secretary, Sajid Javid on 1 April.

The announcement of the consultation coincided with a Downing Street summit on knife crime held by the prime minister with expert agencies, ministers, and community leaders.

Javid 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, multiagency 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.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “It is critical that we address the root causes of this crisis and do more to tackle the reasons that are driving far too many young people into carrying knives. Ministers should not pretend that the measures announced by the home secretary will solve the issues society faces unless they are accompanied by other measures aimed at tackling the prevalence of knife crime in our society.”

He added: “We must also ensure that any response balances the crucial relationship of trust and confidence between patients and clinicians with their wider responsibility to protect the public.  There are substantial challenges for all parts of the public sector in identifying ‘at risk’ individuals and these proposals could develop into a simplistic profiling exercise.

"We will be examining the government’s announcement in detail and responding in due course.”

The consultation closes on 28 May.