Ashley Dalton has called for a reverse of years of Tory cuts to young people’s services to help tackle the rise in youth crime.
Spending on youth services in England has fallen by £737m (62%) since 20101 and the impact is clear. In 2016, a Unison survey of youth workers found 83% said cuts to the service were contributing to the rise in crime and antisocial behaviour in young people.
Violent crime is on the rise, with offences in England and Wales involving knives or sharp implements increasing by 16% in the year to March 20182. At the same time, the number of police officers is falling3.
Ashley Dalton said:
Youth crime, especially violence, is a tragedy that here in Rochford & Southend East we know all too well. There have been a number of stabbings in our town in recent months and, in May, an incident resulting in the death of a man aged just 19.
I have previously called for more investment in the police force to deal with violent crime.
But youth crime is more than just a policing matter. As young people’s lives become bleaker as a result of Tory austerity and youth services are withdrawn, crime and anti-social behaviour are on the rise.
I am committed to working with our community to help find practical solutions to end youth crime and the factors that cause it, and I have attended meetings with local residents, the police and other service providers to talk about the issues.
Ashley Dalton’s comments come as the Labour Party announces its intention to bring in legislation requiring every local council across England to provide a minimum level of support for young people.
To make this happen, a Labour government will establish a national body with dedicated ring-fenced funding to oversee youth service provision across England. It will also create a national strategy for youth work and a charter that is underpinned by law, which will define what the sufficient level of youth services will be. This will require a sustainable funding model to reverse years of Tory cuts.
The government has recently announced an increase to the funding for the Early Intervention Youth Fund. However, Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s shadow policing minister, said the amount was negligible. Louise Haigh said:
If the consequences of the government’s neglect of youth services and early intervention weren’t so serious today’s announcement would be laughable. £22m is barely a drop in the ocean in the context of £387m in cuts to youth services alone during the first 6 years of this Tory government and £1bn in total from children’s and young people’s services.
Sadiq Khan has a £45m fund for London alone.
The government knows what it has to do – invest in the police, ensure services are available as early as possible in a young person’s life and commit to a long-term strategy to end the spiral of serious violence.
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