HL Deb 28 November 1994 vol 559 cc28-9WA
Baroness David

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which government departments have responsibilities relevant to the reduction and prevention of inter-personal violence involving children and young people up to the age of 18; and what are those responsibilities; and

What inter-departmental committees or bodies have responsibilities relevant to co-ordinating research and action to reduce and prevent inter-personal violence involving children and young people.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege)

There are several inter-departmental committees which deal with violence involving children. The Department of Health takes the lead on the Inter-Departmental Group on Child Abuse which was set up in 1987 in recognition of the need for a permanent mechanism to facilitate inter-departmental co-operation in the field of child protection. Inter-personal violence involving children is among the matters considered by the group.

* For correction, see Official Report, 6/12/94; col. WA.82

The Home Office has established a ministerial group on crime prevention which is supported by an inter-departmental group of officials. The ministerial group seeks to ensure that the policies of various government departments which have a crime prevention potential are co-ordinated and that departments pursue crime prevention objectives in the implementation of their policies and programmes. The ministerial group has previously looked at various aspects of tackling crime by and against young people. A Home Office Minister also chairs the ministerial group on domestic violence, the work of which is supported by an inter-departmental group of officials. The work of the ministerial group in tackling domestic violence between partners may be of relevance where children within a relationship are at risk of being adversely affected by such violence.

The Department of Health has responsibility for the child care aspects of youth justice and takes the lead on the development of family support services. The Department of Health child care research liaison group considers matters relating to violence involving children when planning its research programme.

Several government departments are responsible for or involved with a range of programmes that contribute to juvenile crime prevention.

The Home Office has responsibility for crime prevention; the law on violent and sexual offences against children, and the sentencing powers available to the courts in dealing with young offenders. The Prison Service works with prisoners to help them address their offending behaviour and to prepare them for release into the community. As part of its responsibility for the care of prisoners, the Prison Service launched an anti-bullying strategy in July 1993. Social services departments and the probation service supervise young offenders convicted of offences serious enough to justify a community sentence. In doing so, the supervision service seeks to encourage and assist the child or young person in their development towards a responsible and law abiding life. The Home Office also commissions research on inter-personal violence, including that involving children and young people.

The Department for Education has responsibility for policy on pupil behaviour and discipline in schools, including action against bullying.

The Scottish Office, the Welsh Office and DHSS, Northern Ireland have similar responsibilities and are represented on inter-departmental groups which consider the subject of inter-personal violence involving children.