Youth Service Cuts and Impact on Crime

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2022 Local Government Service Group Conference
15 February 2022

Conference notes that youth services have a vital positive and preventative role, and that youth workers and youth support workers provide input that enriches the lives of young people. In many and varied ways they help young people to lead positive lives as members of society. Youth services assist young people in finding employment, training or education; they help with potential mental health issues; and they help prevent alcohol and substance abuse, crime and anti-social behaviour. They also have the potential to bring diverse communities of young people together. Professional youth workers can recognise when a young person may need extra support outside of school or the home.

Conference is well aware that since 2010, youth services have drastically cut. Research published by UNISON in 2019 revealed that since 2010, 940 youth centres had been cut. We know from previous research that between 2010 and 2019, £400m was cut from youth service spending, and 4,500 youth work jobs were lost between 2012 and 2019.

Further UNISON research has been undertaken into the rise in crime in the UK, and whilst this can be clearly linked to cuts in policing, the link to cuts to youth services cannot be ignored. Youth work is not just about career guidance, mental health support and community cohesion. It is also an effective way of tackling the root causes of crime. Services aimed at young people are key to early intervention against the causes of crime, and the cuts to these services have a disproportionate impact on young people who are also Black, disabled or LGBT+.

Youth services are very much based on the relationship between youth workers or youth support workers and young people. So cuts in members’ jobs are extremely harmful to young people and communities.

Figures show that in areas where support for young people has been cut most brutally, they are more at risk of violence; and police services in these areas have also seen some of the highest knife crime increases.

A report by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on knife crime and violence reduction showed a link between knife crime and budget cuts to youth services. It also demonstrated that trained youth workers can provide vital support for young people affected by violent crime, and identified effective interventions and initiatives.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to work with the Self-Organised Groups, the NEC and other service groups to:

1)Campaign against cuts to youth services and youth work jobs;

2)Promote previous work and research highlighting the links between youth service cuts and increased crime;

3)Work with Labour Link to make this a feature of our campaigns in local elections;

4)Work with the devolved nations to make this campaign a feature in elections to devolved parliaments.