Youth offending budget cuts threaten crime tackling efforts

The Local Government Association has warned that years of success at tackling youth crime will be threatened unless the government maintains funding for preventing youth offending.

The organisation is concerned that, despite having to set budgets within the next two weeks, many authorities have still not received their youth justice grant allocations for 2018/19, meaning that managing planning services more complex.

Government funding for youth offending teams has dropped from £145 million in 2010/11 to just £72 million in 2017/18, including a a £9 million in-year cut in 2015, and a further 12 per cent budget cut for 2016/17. However, due to the success of council youth offending teams, an 85 per cent drop in First Time Entrants to the youth justice system has been recorded alongside 74 per cent fewer young people in the average custodial population over the last decade.

Nonetheless, the latest Ministry of Justice figures reveal an 11 per cent rise in offences involving knives or offensive weapons by young people. The LGA says that cuts to the government’s youth justice grant mean councils are having to make up more of the funding for YOTs from their own budgets.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “As the numbers of young offenders has fallen, so has the grant from central government to continue the preventative work that caused the fall in the first place. Councils must be given the resources they need to work with young people and prevent their involvement in crime in the first place, rather than simply picking up the pieces after offences have been committed.

“With council budgets being finalised in the coming weeks, youth offending teams need to know that they can rely on the same level of grant funding as last year, at the very least, to continue their work to keep young people out of the youth justice system. This is made all the more urgent given that last year, the Chief Inspector of Prisons found that none of the youth custody establishments inspected in England and Wales was safe to hold children and young people.

“Councils want to do all they can to keep young people out of potentially dangerous institutions and divert them away from damaging situations so that they can live positive, fulfilling lives, but high quality youth work and targeted intervention schemes cost money, and that is in increasingly short supply. Government must commit to the futures of our young people by maintaining funding for the vital work that can put young people on the right track and help to transform lives.”​

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