Leeds: Cuts ‘could trigger rise in youth crime’

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Funding for young people’s services has been slashed by nearly a third in Leeds, sparking a warning “reckless” cuts could send youth crime soaring.

Council spending on services such as Connexions advice centres, youth work, substance misuse and teenage pregnancy support has plummeted by 31 per cent in real terms since 2010-11, budget figures show.

Spending has dropped by 29 per cent across the region while nationally it fell by 27 per cent.

Shadow Home Office minister Diana Johnson has warned that the cuts could create a “substantial risk” of a rise in youth offending.

She also said a £4.2 million drain on funding for community safety partnerships across the region could lead to an increase in the number of children and young people turning to crime.

The groups, which bring together agencies including police in a bid to reduce crime and tackle its underlying causes, have had their budgets cut by 60 per cent by the Home Office.

The Leeds partnership will receive £478,978 this year, down from nearly £1.2m in 2010-11.

Miss Johnson, Labour MP for Hull North, said: “These figures raise serious questions about the lack of thought the Government’s given to the practical consequences of their reckless cuts.

“Councils being left in an impossible position by government cuts which go too far too fast mean youth services are being hit hard.

“Add to that the drastic and probably counter-productive cuts to the community safety fund – meaning thousands of projects and programmes [that] keep young people away from crime are now at risk – and there is a substantial risk of increases in youth offending.”

Across Yorkshire, the most drastic funding cuts for young people’s services have been in Rotherham, where funding was cut by 59 per cent from £7.2m in 2010-11 to £2.9m in 2011-12.

Spending has also more than halved in Sheffield, where it fell from £17.2m to £7.7m and in Hull, where the budget has been slashed to £5.5m from £11.7m last year.

Only Barnsley increased its spending, which was up 11 per cent to £6.6m this year.

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