Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Cause and Effect?

Staying on the topic of London, the dramatic increase in violent crime, the proposed criminal justice devolution deal and the possibility of a brand new 'secure school' for young offenders, I wonder if the problems could in any way be connected to the findings of this just-released report


I have been researching the dramatic cuts to youth services and the loss of facilities for young people in London since 2016. 

I aimed to demonstrate to the Mayor and the Government the need to intervene and help councils who were cutting back on non-statutory services that are vital for young Londoners, and support the work of campaigners and young people who were also highlighting this growing problem. 

My first report in January 2017 showed that, between the 2011/12 and 2016/17 financial years, at least £22 million was cut from council youth service budgets and more than 30 youth centres had closed. 

These figures were from councils who responded to my freedom of information request on time, but further data continued to come in. So, I updated my report in March 2017 with data from 28 councils. This showed total cuts across London of more than £28 million, 457 lost youth worker posts, and 36 closed youth centres and projects. 

This year, I have repeated my research and received a more comprehensive response from councils, particularly on youth centre closures. 

The results are shocking, and I am pleased that this year the Mayor is now taking action to help. Of the Mayor’s new £45 million fund, £10 million a year will go to local communities, schools and charities, and plug about one third of the total that has been lost. I hope that this money will be spent where young people need it most and make a real difference. 

Young people now need the Government to step up as well – to make dedicated youth services a statutory duty of councils and ensure funding is enough to do this. These measures would support our young people through difficult times and invest positively in their futures. 

Sian Berry AM 
March 2018

Main findings 2011/12 to 2017/18: 

• At least £39 million has been cut from council youth service budgets across London. 
• Overall, there has been a 44 per cent youth service budget cut, with the average council taking £1.5 million out of youth services over this time. 
• Across 25 councils with like-for-like data, 81 youth centres and major council supported youth projects have been cut. 
• Across 22 councils with like-for-like data, 800 youth service full-time posts have gone. At least a further £1.2 million is being cut from 15 councils in 2018/19 budgets. 

Since 2011, the cumulative amount not spent on services for young people in London is now more than £145 million.


  1. I'm sure the same correlation will occur in adult crime figures. Cuts to mental health organisations and charities for example amongst the many contributing factors. Governments never seem to learn that cuts actually save money because they never do

    1. Very true. What does save money is investment. Ironically. If I, a bear of little brain can see this, why can’t all the clever people in charge? Short term measures, knee jerk reactions, sound bites is what we have to contend with. And these don’t get the baby bathed.

    2. Ah, yes, but as we all know: "the hand of mystery grips our shoulder, we're weak & wobbly with bad guts, £350bn a week better off & the stubbornly high referendum rates mean we have to go back to Beijing."

  2. News of Hardwickes resignation from the Parole Board hits 30 mins before the Worboys judgement. Whoops

    1. The courts have overturned the decision to release Worboys.
      Does the decision remove the independence of the parole board and pave the way for anyone's release to be challenged?
      Whilst I get the emotive attention Worboys has attracted, I find the courts decision (and Nick Hardwick resignation) a little disturbing.


  3. I think the idea that cuts elsewhere have an impact on rates of offending questions the nonsense of payment by results for CRCs to reduce reoffending. The best can feasibly have the worst results and the worst the best depending on how the wind blows locally. We need National Policy that is interpreted to the needs of local communities, that directs services to work together. The best of these collaborations are where mutual interests are identified. These interests are to my mind glaringly obvious. Although I protest privatised Probation services, the Private sector has a huge role to play as do the voluntary sector. It has been staggering to see the extent to which TR rather than enhancing these arrangements has eroded and destroyed them in what I consider to be a self interested, naive and frankly reckless way. The list of cooperative endeavours are numerous and waiting for a government catalyst and some up front investment to realise them.


    1. The Ministry of Justice is not renewing its contract with the Education and Skills Funding Agency, and the advisors could become redundant on Saturday.

      Islington MPs Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn both spoke out against the cull this week. Ms Thornberry, Islington South and Finsbury MP since 2005, has previously made numerous representations about the state of the crumbling Victorian jail in Caledonian Road.

      She told the Gazette: “I have made my views clear many times on the desperate and dangerous state of Pentonville, and the Tory government’s total failure to do anything about it.

      “But it just adds insult to that injury for them to get rid of staff at Pentonville – and across the country – whose job is helping inmates to plan and train for lives outside prison, where they can get jobs and make a more positive contribution to our society and our economy.

      “Whatever the government plans to do with the savings these redundancies will create, it is the definition of a false economy to make them by cutting back on staff who are trying to rehabilitate prisoners and make sure they do not re-offend after their release.”

      Mr Corbyn, the Islington North MP and Labour Party leader, said: “It actually saves money to invest properly in good quality rehabilitation.”

      The advisors work with prisoners throughout their sentences, helping them gain access to education and often building connections with local employers.

      Tom Schuller, chair of the Prisoner Learning Alliance, said: “This short-sighted decision will put further pressure on a system already under inordinate strain.

      “We therefore call on the government to reconsider the cut to the National Careers Service in prisons, or to explain, as a matter of urgency, what will replace this vital service.”

      A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We are committed to providing education and training to deliver more effective rehabilitation to address the needs of offenders.

      “We are reviewing options for alternative provision as part of wider employment services. This will give governors further control over how their education and training offer is delivered.”