Further calls for investment in a ‘statutory youth service’
DECEMBER 03, 2019
The Serious Youth Violence report published by the parliamentary home affairs committee has called for local authority funding for youth services to be statutory, ring-fenced and focused on preventing young people becoming caught up in violence.
The inquiry highlights the connection between deprivation and vulnerability to knife crime and serious youth violence, linking school exclusion and knife crime and suggesting that our education system is currently failing many children, including those most in need of holistic support and early intervention.
The committee, chaired by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, also recommends focusing greater provision in areas which most need it, such as those where under-25 knife crime and school exclusions are particularly high.
The inquiry recognised the recent rises in serious youth violence as a social emergency which must be addressed through much more concerted Government action at a national and local level. It identified resources as a key factor, while emphasising that other issues, such as county lines drug gangs, have also played a part. It also recognises that there is no silver bullet, no one easy answer with the MPs cautioning against slogans that sound good, but which lack substance, such as "public health approach". Instead, they suggests violence will only come down through sustained hard work over many years by government, agencies and communities together.
In the report, the Committee concluded that the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy presented an inadequate response to this wave of violence as it contained no targets or milestones, few new actions, and no clear mechanisms for driving forward activity at a national and regional level.
Yvette Cooper MP, Chair of the Committee said "Teenagers are dying on our streets, and yet our inquiry has found that the government's response to the rise in serious youth violence is completely inadequate.
In its conclusion, the report states that the current epidemic of youth violence has been exacerbated by a perfect storm emerging from cuts to youth services, heavily reduced police budgets, a growing number of children being excluded from school and taken into care, and a failure of statutory agencies to keep young people safe from exploitation and violence. It accuses the Home Office of taking a hands-off approach to the crisis, and says that it is a national emergency and must be treated like one.
National Officer for Community and Youth Workers in Unite, Siobhan Endean said "Here we have yet another government report that recognises the true cost of cuts on the lives of young people and the need for greater investment in youth work."
“The report again demonstrates the need for urgent investment in both open access youth services and preventative services and we ask the Prime Minister and his government to commit to ensuring young people do not continue to bear the brunt of ideologically driven cuts. Government must legislate for a statutory youth service, with dedicated ring fenced funding, provided by a core of JNC qualified youth workers. This requires a massive investment in youth services and a reversal of the cuts that have decimated services for the current generation of young people. It also calls for a real commitment to support for youth services in the next Comprehensive Spending Review.”
"Unite believes that the government needs to take a radical approach in order to deliver the youth work offer that young people in England deserve. A statutory youth service, with dedicated ring fenced funding, provided by a core of JNC qualified youth workers, working with trained and supported volunteers with one full time nationally qualified youth worker for every 400 young people."
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