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Crime cut if families given help
Effective intervention by social workers in the lives of the most chaotic families can dramatically cut their involvement in crime and anti-behaviour, according to an official report.
Louise Casey, who heads the Government's Troubled Families programme, said that the results of family interventions had so far proved "impressive".
In her latest report, she called on all local authorities in England to review their practices in order meet David Cameron pledge - made in the wake of last year's summer riots - to turn around the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families by 2015.
She said that academic evidence had shown that family intervention reduced involvement in anti-social behaviour by 59%, involvement in crime by 45% and truancy, exclusion and bad behaviour at school by 52%.
The key to success, she said, lay in assigning a dedicated social worker to each problem family, and in treating the family unit as a whole.
At the same time, social workers needed to take a "persistent, assertive and challenging approach" to the families they were working with while offering practical "hands on support".
"Family intervention that involves one dedicated worker for each family, providing tough but persistent challenge and support, has a dramatic impact, not just on the life chances of those within the families, but on the communities around them who suffer from the effects of truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour," she said.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said that the report showed that the whole community stood to benefit if the lives of the most chaotic families could be put back on track.
"Effective family intervention also demonstrates that savings can be made for taxpayers by putting families back on the right track for the long run, rather than wasting money on simply reacting to their problems," he said.
"We must have aspiration for every family and this work will reach all corners of the country."