Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Organised Crime: Young People’s Safety

by Lloyd on 05.09.18 in Uncategorised
In 2013, the coalition Government published their “Serious and organised crime strategy”. Prevention was cited as a key component of that plan to end gang and youth violence. As part of that strategy, the Government spoke about the utilisation of youth workers and youth services to identify high-risk individuals and help steer them away from crime.
In 2013, the coalition Government published their “Serious and organised crime strategy”. Prevention was cited as a key component of that plan to end gang and youth violence. As part of that strategy, the Government spoke about the utilisation of youth workers and youth services to identify high-risk individuals and help steer them away from crime.

Despite the danger of sounding like a broken record, it will be no surprise to colleagues that I intend to speak about what has happened to youth services since then, and the problems that that has led to in our communities.

Despite the Government’s plan, a 2016 study—these are the latest figures we have—found that 600 youth centres in our country have closed, and that 3,500 youth workers, who were positive, adult influences on our young people, have lost their jobs. Some 140,000 places for the most vulnerable young people have been deleted. Those figures are two years old, but the cuts have got worse. That crippling effect has led to the collapse of youth services across our country, and there has been an increase in what we see as the exploitation of our young people.

To put a figure on this, in 2010 £1.2 billion was spent on youth services and youth prevention programmes, but last year just £358 million was spent. That is a 68% cash-terms cut: in today’s money, £1 billion that has been ripped out from prevention—the very thing that the crime strategy said it needed to focus on. What has happened, unsurprisingly, is a jump in knife crime, which is up by 69%, and now the rise in county lines is affecting every corner of our country.

Councillor Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people’s board, recently said:

“Councils must be given the resources they need”

to stop just picking up the pieces and to start to tackle the problems. That highlights the current reactive approach as opposed to the positive approach that we have. In reality, if this issue was directly affecting your child, Mr Evans, or my child, or the children of people of influence, buttons would already have been pressed, strings would have been pulled, and rules would have been changed. However, the children and young people who are most affected often come from the poorest and most disadvantaged communities, and those with the least voice. We therefore see nice plaudits but—unfortunately—inaction, which is why we need a decent preventive strategy.​

Last year, the Government slashed by half the budgets of youth offending teams. The principle was that a young person who got into trouble would have professionals to steer them away from that life. However, if the Ministry of Justice is cutting in half the amount of money that we are spending on that, we have to cut not only our preventive programmes but the programmes that pick up the pieces.

I ask the Minister to ask his colleagues at the Ministry of Justice to restore the youth offending budget, to speak to the Minister with responsibility for youth services and ensure that those services are invested in, and to make sure that those buttons are pressed and those strings are pulled. We must ensure that there are no more unnecessary deaths and ruined lives on this country’s streets.

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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