Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth, hit out at the Government during Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday over continuing cuts to public services and said there was a direct link between cuts to local authority budgets and the increased levels of violent crime, especially knife crime, that have been targeted towards young people. Speaking in the Chamber, Ruth told David Liddington, who was standing in for Theresa May that ‘‘Teachers, specialist Children and Youth workers, and others are warning that Government cuts are making it harder to protect young people from knife crime’’.
Since 2010, she says, the Government have cut funding for youth services by 70%, with schools facing a real terms funding cut of 8%. Likewise the Metropolitan Police have faced £1 billion in cuts, which in turn has meant there are 3,000 fewer police officers in London. Alongside these cuts, violent crime in England and Wales rose by 18% last year. The Metropolitan Police have held two public meetings in Chiswick in the past six months to address concern about the growing number of incidents of knife crime locally.
Speaking after the debate, Ruth said ‘‘In my latest crime survey I’ve had dozens of constituents tell me that the best way to protect young people from violent crime is to invest in vital prevention based services such as youth clubs, whilst ensuring our police officers have the funding they need to respond to crime when it occurs. Teachers, and social workers are now warning that whilst they know which children are at-risk, they simply don’t have the resources to protect them. This stems directly from the Government cutting real terms school funding by 8% since 2010. Even Conservatives like Lord Seb Coe are now saying that there is a direct link between cuts to youth services, and violent crime. When I asked about this in Prime Ministers Questions, David Liddington gave a weak response which completely ignored that the Government have cut £880 million in youth services, whilst also imposing step cuts on frontline policing. It’s clear that the Government need to listen to teachers, youth workers, parents, and young people, and reinvest in our communities, to help tackle violent crime.’’
What he actually said was: “The facts are that the Government have increased police funding by more than £970 million for the next year, and the Labour party voted against that increase when the order came before the House. However, the hon. Lady is right to say that this situation is not only about policing and new laws, but about early intervention. That is why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has secured £220 million for early intervention projects to try to steer young people at risk of knife crime and other violent crime away from the gangs that can seduce them into that appalling way of life”.
Locally we have seen public money withdrawn from the Hogarth Youth Centre, which will no longer receive money from Hounslow council after a transition period. It now has to raise sufficient funds to be self funding. When Superintendent Gary Taylor, Deputy Commander of Metropolitan Police West Area, addressed last December’s public meeting, he said the police service had had huge cuts made to their budget. “It’s quite a big ask to keep everyone happy with reduced resources” and “the money saving journey is not yet finished.”
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