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Knife crime: councils warn of lack of funding to fight issue

KNIFE CRIME: Protesters from #OperationShutdown demonstrate against YouTube outside the Youtube Space near King's Cross Station, London

COUNCILS HAVE said their efforts to tackle knife crime are being “hampered” by a lack of clarity over funding.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, has today called on the Ministry of Justice to announce the funding for this year.

The LGA has said that planning services to support young people at risk of knife crime and keep them out of the youth justice system is “extremely difficult” while council do not know how much funding they will be allocated.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “The wait goes on for councils to find out how much money they will receive this year to fund youth offending teams.

“This unacceptable uncertainty is making it extremely difficult for them to plan the services which play a vital role in supporting young people and preventing them from getting involved in criminal activity such as knife crime or county lines drug dealing.”

Youth offending teams (YOTs) have made significant progress in working with and supporting young people to prevent them getting involved in youth crime, with an 86 per cent drop in first time entrants to the youth justice system and a 78 per cent drop in arrests over the last decade, the LGA reported.

The number of youth cautions handed out dropped by more than 100,000, or 91 per cent, in the same period.

However, the overall size of the grant, which funds the vital work of YOTs within councils, has already been halved from £145 million in 2010/11 to £71.5 million in 2018/19, putting councils’ abilities to maintain this success and protect residents at risk. With the recent surge in knife violence among young people, the LGA says funding should at the very least, be maintained at last year’s level.

Bramble said: “Councils are determined to do all they can to protect young people and keep them safe, but their efforts are being seriously hampered by the lack of clarity around such a vital source of funding.

“Funding for youth offending teams has already more than halved since 2010, and the Government needs to act now by announcing it will at least maintain existing funding levels this year.”

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