Council youth service cuts ‘responsible for knife crime rise’

7 May 19

Cuts to council youth services has lead to a knife crime “epidemic”, cross-party MPs have warned. 

Freedom of information request responses from 106 councils found spending on youth services went down an average of 40% between 2014-15 and 2017-18.

Some of the local authorities reduced youth spending by 91% between the three years, according to analysis by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime out today.

While funding for services such as youth clubs and youth workers have dwindled since 2014, knife offences have exploded in England and Wales, increasing by 68% over the same period. The number of knife-related incidents recorded by police shot up from 25,515 from March 2014 to 42,790 in September 2018, according to Freedom of Information data obtained by the APPG.

Chair of the APPG Sarah Jones said: “We cannot hope to turn around the knife crime epidemic if we don’t invest in our young people.

“Our figures show how in areas where support for young people has been cut most, they are more at risk to violence. Youth services cannot be a ‘nice to have’. Our children’s safety must be our number one priority.”

The four local authorities that made the greatest cuts to youth services between 2014-15 and 2017-18 were City of Wolverhampton (youth services cut by 91%), City of Westminster (91%), Cambridgeshire County Council (88%) and Wokingham Borough Council (81%).

Since 2013-14 there has been an 87% increase in knife crime offences for West Midland Police, a 47% rise for the Metropolitan Police, a 95% increase for Cambridgeshire Police and a 99% increase for Thames Valley, linking cuts to youth service spending and knife crime rates.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter that “sweeping government cuts” were putting young people at risk:



The research, which also reveals a 51% drop in the number of youth centres supported by local authorities and a 42% drop in youth service staff since 2011, was supported by charities Barnado’s and Redthread.

Barnado’s chief executive Javed Khan said the figures were “alarming but sadly unsurprising”.

“The government needs to work with local authorities to ensure they have enough funding to run vital services and restore children’s sense of hope,” he added.

John Poyton, chief executive of Redthread, said: “Young people are on a vulnerable transition between childhood and adulthood and youth services are crucial in ensuring they are able to reach out to trusted professionals to ask for help at the earliest opportunity.”

Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “The shocking surge in children and young people tragically involved in knife crime and gang activity only reinforces the need to invest in local services to support and work with children and young people to help them stay safe.

“Councils’ youth offending teams (YOTs) have an outstanding track record in working with children and young people to stop them coming into the youth justice system, but they’ve been victims of their own success.”

The APPG sent FOI requests to 154 councils in England.

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