Lambeth was dealt a blow last week after the Government announced it would be making cuts of over 20% to its Youth Offending Team, despite having one of the highest levels of youth offending in the country. These draconian cuts will reduce the ability to identify and divert potential young offenders, exposing our communities to an increase risk of violent crime. The Youth Offending Team offers young people an alternative to a life of crime and in making this cut the Coalition is likely to blight the lives of Lambeth’s most vulnerable young people.
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Pete Robbins, issued the warning as a Tory Youth Justice Minister, Crispin Blunt MP, visited Lambeth Council to see Lambeth’s Youth Offending Service. Cllr Robbins demanded a meeting with the minister, and set out how these short-sighted cuts will risk higher levels of youth disaffection and negative behaviour, leading to higher levels of offending. Experts confirm that the cost of repairing the damage caused by higher levels of youth crime far outweigh the savings made by short-sighted cuts like these.
Cllr Pete Robbins said: ‘Safety is the number one concern of Lambeth residents, and this latest Tory cut could cause huge damage to our recent progress in reducing crime and helping divert young people away from gangs. I don’t see how the Tories dare to claim they are interested in preventing youth crime at the same time as cutting the service. I am pleased the minister had the opportunity to see the fantastic work that Lambeth does, but unless he realises his Government is putting it all at risk then it will have been a wasted trip.’
He also added, ‘To add insult to injury, these latest cuts have been made with just one month’s notice - that’s no time at all to find ways to mitigate the worst impact.’
Cllr Robbins and Cllr Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council, have today written a joint letter to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, Education Secretary Michael Gove, and Home Secretary Theresa May demanding that they reverse the cut, and pointing out their decisions are likely to put their stated aim that fewer young people should be sent to prison in serious doubt.