PM criticised over parenting order pledge

The government has been warned against pre-empting the work of a new taskforce set up to deliver the respect agenda with its plans for the wider use of parenting orders.

The cross-governmental respect task force, headed by former national director of the Antisocial Behaviour Unit Louise Casey, will examine ways of supporting parents and guardians to build their skills and accept responsibility for the impact their children’s behaviour has on others.

But its launch last week coincided with a promise from the prime minister for a “major extension” of the use of parenting orders and contracts to help combat antisocial behaviour.

Kathy Evans, director of policy at the Children’s Society, told 0-19: “Parenting orders have been about for eight years. If this is a new task force to bring new thinking then we need to hear something else.”

Evans said it was inappropriate to extend the use of coercive parenting support without first investing in open access support which parents could take advantage of before problems got out of hand.

“So many parents would seek support if it was available,” she said. “To introduce more coercive parenting support without non coercive access does not seem fair. If you are interested in preventive work, then investing in coercive support just doesn’t do it.”

Chris Stanley, head of youth crime at the crime reduction charity Nacro, warned that support packages for parents experiencing difficulties should not be treated as a “quick fix solution” on their own. He said it was crucial resources were forthcoming to fund family support projects to ensure needs were addressed at an early stage.

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