PRESS RELEASE: The Liberal Democrats have announced they would more than double spending on youth services in Bath & North East Somerset to more than £3.6m, to help tackle rising levels of crime. This would form part of a total ring-fenced fund of £500 million for Local Authorities across England to spend on youth services, providing young people with positive, safe and healthy alternatives to gangs.
Under the Conservative government, council spending on youth services has been cut by £300 million - or 40 per cent - since 2015. Knife crime has risen by 80% over the same period, with a record high of 47,500 offences recorded in the year to June 2019. Research has also found the areas with the biggest cuts to youth services have seen some of the biggest increases in knife crime.
The Liberal Democrats would also take a public health approach to tackling youth violence, modelled on the successful approach taken by Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit. This would involve identifying risk factors and treating them early on, with youth workers, police, teachers, health professionals and social services all working closely together to prevent young people falling into gangs and violence.
Liberal Democrat candidate for North East Somerset, Nick Coates, commented:
"Too many people in Bath & North East Somerset feel unsafe walking down their own streets.
"But for years, Conservative and Labour Governments have been competing to seem tough on crime, without doing enough to actually prevent it.
"Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for young people by doubling spending on youth services to £3.6 million a year in BathNES."
Cllr Kevin Guy lead Liberal Democratic member for Children’s Services reacted to the announcement:
"The local Liberal Democrats are fully committed to working hard with the police and other statutory & voluntary bodies.
"This is despite the unsustainable levels of central government cuts placed on both the local authority and police force. We are specifically concerned with the increasing levels of youth violence and exploitation, that can only be best challenged by a radical new approach from a Liberal Democrat-led government."
Nick Coates added: "With a Liberal Democrat government, young people will have the support and opportunities they deserve, our local communities will be stronger and people here will feel safer."
Notes to Editors
Current funding allocated for youth services in B&NES amounted to (£1,651,000) in 2017-18. Under a Liberal Democrat government, this would increase by £1,984,719 to a total of £3,635,719.
Education is fully devolved, so this policy applies to England only. However, under the Barnett formula extra funding will be made available to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Liberal Democrat manifesto will be fully costed and will clearly set out revenue sources to account for extra spending, including this investment in youth services.
Spending on youth services has been cut by 40% in real terms between 2015 and 2018. Research by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime has found that the areas with the biggest cuts to youth services have seen some of the biggest increases in knife crime.
Knife crime has risen by 80% and homicides by 26% between 2015 and 2018. Police recorded over 47,500 offences involving knives or sharp instruments in England and Wales in the year to June 2019.
ONS statistics 2019.