Ministers under fire as report by MPs links knife crime surge with cuts to youth services
Ministers have been condemned after a report revealed that the places hardest hit by cuts to youth services are likely to have seen the biggest increases in knife crime.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime found that Wolverhampton and Westminster local authorities were the worst affected by cuts to youth services – at 91% since 2014/15.
Those councils were followed by Cambridgeshire County Council, on 88% and Wokingham Borough Council on 81%.
While the boundaries of councils and police forces cannot be directly compared, the analysis suggests West Midlands Police, the Metropolitan Police, Cambridgeshire Police, and Thames Valley Police, have also seen some of the highest increases in knife crime.
Labour MP Sarah Jones heaped pressure on ministers by urging them to consider making provision of youth services a legal requirement.
She said: “We cannot hope to turn around the knife crime epidemic if we don’t invest in our young people.
“Every time I speak to young people they say the same thing: they need more positive activities, safe spaces to spend time with friends and programmes to help them grow and develop.
"Youth services cannot be a ‘nice to have’. Our children’s safety must be our number one priority.
“The Government must urgently review its own funding for young people and consider setting a legal requirement for councils to provide certain youth services. We have requirements for post offices, why not youth clubs?”
Barnardo's Chief Executive Javed Khan said: "These figures are alarming but sadly unsurprising. Taking away youth workers and safe spaces in the community contributes to a 'poverty of hope' among young people who see little or no chance of a positive future.
"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."
The APPG obtained the figures on youth service budgets through freedom of information requests sent to 154 local authorities in England, of which 106 replied