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Readers’ panel: Should nurses have a legal duty to raise concerns about young people at risk of involvement in knife crime?

A Home Office consultation could result in nurses in England and Wales having to report young people at risk of involvement in knife crime

A Home Office consultation could result in nurses in England and Wales having to report young people at risk of involvement in knife crime. Nursing Standard readers have their say

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Stacie May is a nursing student in Plymouth

No, they should not. Nurses already have a duty of care to raise concerns and are accountable for their actions under the Nursing and Midwifery Council code. Anything that can be done to prevent knife crime, which is a prominent issue at the moment, is obviously welcome. But with a significant shortage of nurses in the NHS, and an ever-growing list of responsibilities, making this a legal duty would just add to the stress of already overstretched nursing staff.


Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical unit in Sheffield 

Shifting the focus of tackling knife crime on to others might make good headlines but it would do nothing to solve the problem. If nurses need support or training in how to raise concerns in this area, this could be covered in the annual mandatory training on safeguarding children and adults. But to go a step further and suggest nurses should have a legal duty feels like we are being accused of supporting it. Give the police the resources they need rather than looking to blame others.


Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

If I have to raise a safeguarding concern or make a report to the police, I don’t do it because of a legal obligation, I do it because of my professional, moral and ethical obligations. I don’t want another legal chain placed around my neck that will have me second-guessing everything I do for fear I might have missed something. This strategy won’t improve patient care, nor will it solve the problem of knife crime, which is a cultural and social problem, not a health one.


Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London

When did policing patients become part of a nurse’s role? Will we face prison if we miss someone at risk of knife crime? This proposal could also have a negative effect on the nurse-patient relationship, with people not seeking treatment if they think they will be turned in to the police. This is yet another poorly-thought-out strategy from the government, which should be properly funding the police and local councils to tackle knife crime rather than putting the responsibility on to healthcare professionals.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

Find out more

Serious violence: new legal duty to support multi-agency action (Government consultation)


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