The Liberal Democrats have today announced they would more than double spending on youth services in Lewisham to £11 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 Conservatives, 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 Lewisham Deptford Bobby Dean said:
“Young people in Lewisham have a right to feel safe but they have been let down badly by successive Conservative and Labour Governments. While they have competed to seem tough on crime, not enough has been done to actually prevent it.
“Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for young people by doubling spending on youth services to £11 million a year in Lewisham.
“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.”
Current funding allocated for youth services in Lewisham amounted to £5,071,000 in 2017-18. Under a Liberal Democrat government, this would increase by £6,096,007 to a total of £11,167,007.
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%. https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2018/05/24/tackling-knife-crime-in-scotland-10-years-on/