Expert 'shocked' at number of children seen on streets after 9.30pm in Leeds

A member of a panel of experts in youth services in Leeds has raised concerns about the number of children and young people on the streets of the city late at night.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 11:45 am

Kate Blacker, a parent governor representative for primary schools, told a meeting of the Leeds City Council children’s scrutiny board she often saw large groups of children on the streets after 9.30pm, and questioned what the authority was doing to make sure they had something to occupy their time.

A senior Leeds City Council officer admitted the authority had had to make cuts to youth services over the past few years, but said the council was looking towards other schemes to roll out across the city.

Kate Blacker told the meeting: “I drive through Harehills and Gipton on an evening to take my daughter to the other side of the city. She has just turned 11, and she and I are always shocked – and I’m sure it’s the same across lots of different areas of the city – at the number of children and young people who are on the streets at nine to 9.30[pm] at night.

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The meeting took place in Civic Hall, Leeds.

“It’s encouraging to hear there is lots of work going on, but particularly for boys, what is there for them? Where can they go on an evening? The numbers of them out on the street at night is quite concerning.”

Leeds City Council’s head of children’s services Steve Walker responded: “Clearly, like many authorities, Leeds, despite the work that was done to protect children’s services, we did have to cut some children’s services – some of those were youth services.

“I am very heartened to hear that there is talk about a reinvestment nationally, and a recognition of the importance of these services, but there is a remarkable project running in Harehills in CATCH, and it is looking at how we can take that and spread that.”

CATCH, or Community Action to Create Hope, is a Leeds-based charity that focuses on work with young adults and children on Leeds.

According to recent figures released by youth charity YMCA, Leeds City Council saw an 87 per cent drop in real terms spending on youth services between 2010/11, when the authority had spent £25,210,000; and 2018/19, when it spent £3,329,000.