Cross-party group call for major investment in youth services to prevent knife crime

A major investment in youth services is needed in the Budget to help prevent knife crime, according to MPs.

A cross-party group of politicians called for urgent funds to protect children from being drawn into a life of crime and violence.

The latest report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime and Violence Reduction, which features concerns raised by youngsters, made the call to the Chancellor so councils can provide “vital services”.

The group said the Government’s £500 million youth investment fund, announced last autumn, is welcome but will not transform the system alone and more money needs to be pledged in Wednesday’s Budget to “plug the gap”.

Research suggests a “clear correlation” between areas that cut spending on youth services and those with the fastest increase in knife crime, the group said.

It called on the Government to:

  • Carry out a national audit of youth services in England
  • Give councils funding for long-term youth work and set a statutory minimum level of provision
  • Invest in professional youth workers

Some of the young people described in the report how gangs step in and fill the void left by youth service cuts and are seen as a chance to feel part of a community.

Sarah Jones, chairwoman of the parliamentary group, said: “Knife crime is at record levels and too many young people are dying on our streets.

“Meanwhile, children across our country have seen youth services reduced or stripped away entirely in recent years.

“Policing and enforcement will always be important, but there is clear evidence that we can achieve better outcomes if Government prioritises investment in preventing violence than dealing with its consequences.”

Charities Barnardo’s and Redthread have supported the parliamentary group’s work.

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “Barnardo’s has long warned that the reduction in youth workers and safe spaces over many years has contributed to a ‘poverty of hope’ among young people who see little or no chance of a positive future.”

John Poyton, chief executive of Redthread, said: “At its best, youth work can support these young people to thrive in the face of adversity and prevent exploitation and violence. But it cannot achieve this without investment in developing the profession and the workforce.”

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