Put money into youth services to reduce crime, say MPs

31 Jul 19

Investment in youth services is needed to tackle the “social emergency” of rising youth violence in England and Wales, MPs have urged.

Police-recorded murders have increased by over a third in the last five years while knife offences have risen by over 70%, according to the home affairs committee.

This has had a disproportionate impact on young people with the number of under-18s admitted to hospital with knife injuries rising by a third between 2013-14 and 2017-18, the report said.

To prevent more young people being sucked into knife crime the MPs called for “major investment” in local youth services through a ‘Youth Service Guarantee’.

This should consist of an increase in services supported by ringfenced funding from central government, the MPs said.

The scathing report deemed the rise in youth violence a “social emergency” and suggested that the government’s Serious Violence Strategy is “completely inadequate”.

The strategy has no clear mechanism for driving forward activity at national and regional levels and lacks targets and milestones, according to the report.

Yvette Cooper, chair of the home affairs committee, said the government “just hasn’t risen to the scale of the problem”.

She added: “Serious violence has got worse after a perfect storm of youth service cuts, police cuts, more children being excluded from school and a failure of statutory agencies to keep them safe.

“The government has a responsibility to deal with this crisis urgently.”

Cooper claimed the government’s public health approach for tackling serious violence is currently just rhetoric and lacks action.

She said: “To publish a weak strategy and convene a few roundtable discussion just isn’t enough when faced with youth violence on this scale.

“The home office has shamefully taken a hands-off approach to this crisis, but it is a national emergency and must be treated like one.”

Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield said: “We need a large-scale and long term plan that includes a new generation of youth workers, more investment in early years and troubled families programmes, better children’s mental health services, a strategy to tackle school exclusions and keeping schools open for longer to help protect some of the most vulnerable children.

“Too many families and communities are being wrecked and too many childhoods broken by the scourge of gangs and criminal exploitation.”

The Home Office has been contacted for a response.

CIPFA released figures in March that showed council spending on young people’s services had dropped by 18% in the last four years.

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