The Liberal Democrats have announced they would more than double spending on youth services in Newham to £3.9 million, to help tackle rising levels of knife crime. This would form part of a total ring-fenced fund of £500 million for Local Authorities across England to spend on youth services, providing young people with positive, safe and healthy alternatives to gangs.
Under the Conservative Government, council spending on youth services has been cut by £300 million - or 40 per cent - since 2015. Knife crime has risen by 80% over the same period, with a record high of 47,500 offences recorded in the year to June 2019.
Research has also found the areas with the biggest cuts to youth services have seen some of the biggest increases in knife crime.
The Liberal Democrats would also take a public health approach to tackling youth violence, modelled on the successful approach taken by Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit.
This would involve identifying risk factors and treating them early on, with youth workers, police, teachers, health professionals and social services all working closely together to prevent young people falling into gangs and violence.
Liberal Democrat candidate for West Ham, Eimear O’Casey, commented:
“Too many people in Newham feel unsafe walking down their own streets.
But for years, Conservative and Labour Governments have been competing to seem tough on crime, without doing enough to actually prevent it.
Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for young people by doubling spending on youth services to £3.9 million a year in Newham."
Liberal Democrat candidate for East Ham, Michael Fox, added:
“With a Liberal Democrat government, young people will have the support and opportunities they deserve, our local communities will be stronger and people here will feel safer.”
Funding allocated for youth services in Newham amounted to £1.8 million in 2017-18. Under a Liberal Democrat government, this would increase by £2.1 million to a total of £3.9m.
Education is fully devolved, so this policy applies to England only. However, under the Barnett formula extra funding will be made available to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Liberal Democrat manifesto will be fully costed and will clearly set out revenue sources to account for extra spending, including this investment in youth services.
Spending on youth services has been cut by 40% in real terms between 2015 and 2018. Research by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime has found that the areas with the biggest cuts to youth services have seen some of the biggest increases in knife crime.
Knife crime has risen by 80% and homicides by 26% between 2015 and 2018. Police recorded over 47,500 offences involving knives or sharp instruments in England and Wales in the year to June 2019.
ONS statistics 2019
The Strathclyde Police established Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit in 2005. The unit works with health, education and social work agencies to bring about long-term societal change and provide those involved with gang crime a positive alternative. Violent crime in Scotland has halved over the past decade while in Glasgow, while the number of hospital admissions for stabbings has fallen by 62%.