POLITICS
04/06/2018 23:52 BST | Updated 05/06/2018 12:10 BST

Cash To Tackle Youth Crime Cut Despite Knife Crime Epidemic

'We need more investment, not less,' says London's deputy mayor amid huge rise in violent crime.

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Friends and family of Lewis Elwin, who was fatally stabbed in Tooting in April, stage an anti-knife crime march 

Cash for youth offending teams has been slashed despite a violent crime epidemic and ministers repeatedly promising new money for prevention. 

The Government has handed Youth Justice Boards a “desperately disappointing” £71.6m - exactly the same as last year, meaning the settlement represents a real-terms cut. 

It comes as a spike in knife and gun crime has seen London’s murder rate overtake New York’s. 

On Saturday, a 28-year-old woman became the capital’s 44th victim of knife crime while there have been 66 murders so far in 2018.

YJBs fund local authority-led teams of social workers, probation officers, community psychiatric nurse and police who do an “absolutely crucial” job helping young people turn their backs on crime. 

The Ministry of Justice, which is hurriedly writing to the YJB after announcing the pot of cash two months’ late, has halved funding for youth offending teams since 2010, from £145m in 2010/11 to £71.6m in 2018/19.  

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called the Government “weak on the causes of crime”. 

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Deputy Mayor of London for Policing and Crime Sophie Linden speaks to the media during a visit to join police officers conducting a weapons sweep in Islington, north London.

He said: “The work youth offending teams do in working closely with young people and helping them towards a life away from crime is absolutely crucial – we need more investment, not less.

“The Mayor has invested at record levels to provide support for an extra 1,000 police officers for the Met Police than would otherwise be affordable and has created a £45m fund for projects across London to give young people a path away from crime.

“He is prioritising tackling violence using the powers and resources available to him, it’s time the government stepped up and showed the same commitment by putting an end to cuts to the police service and other preventative services if we are to truly tackle violent crime.”  

Home Secretary Sajid Javid was confronted on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday about the rise in violent crime last year, with the murder up 17%, knife crime up 21% and gun crime up 20%. 

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Home Secretary Sajid Javid has denied a fall in police numbers is to blame for the spike in violent crime

Many have blamed the rises on cutbacks to policing and the Home Office budget, with 21,000 fewer police officers in England and Wales since 2010. 

“People often push for one single cause but there isn’t one single cause, it is a complex issue that will require action on many fronts,” said Javid, who insisted money would be spent on crime prevention.  

His predecessor, Amber Rudd, announced a serious violence strategy last month, but faced widespread criticism as the plan did not include any new money or staff. 

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Last year, we gave the Youth Justice Board £71.6 million to allow local authorities to provide the best possible services for children, and we have matched this funding again this year.

“We have now written to all youth offending teams to confirm this.”