Children and Young People Now reports that years of success at tackling youth crime will be threatened unless the government maintains funding for tackling and preventing youth offending, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.
Central government funding to youth offending teams (YOTs) has halved over the last eight years from £145m in 2010/11 to £72m in 2017/18.
The LGA said it is concerned that councils have still not received their youth justice grant allocation for 2018/19, despite having to set their budgets within the next two weeks, making it difficult for them to plan how they will support young people and prevent reoffending.
However, faced with significant rises in demand for urgent child protection work and an estimated £2bn funding gap for children’s services by 2020, councils are being forced to divert the limited funding they have left away from preventative work, including YOTs and youth work, into services to protect children who are at immediate risk of harm.
While over the last decade there has been an 85 per cent drop in the number of first time young offenders, latest Ministry of Justice figures show an 11 per cent rise in knife crime among young people since March 2012. This compares to a 10 per cent reduction in knife offences among adults over the same period.
“Youth offending teams have an outstanding track record in working with children and young people to stop them coming into the youth justice system, but they’ve been victims of their own success,” said Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board.
“As the numbers of young offenders has fallen, so has the grant from central government to continue the preventative work that caused the fall in the first place.”
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