The new Crime Reduction Strategy recognises a role for youth work in breaking a cycle of violence at the point of crisis in A&E wards and through alternative provision to reduce school exclusions. However, it falls short in supporting young people with a community response to reduce and prevent crime.
When young people have a sense of belonging, communities are stronger. Young people need a safe space in their community, somewhere to go and things to do with a trusted adult who know what is needed. We must:
- Match a named police officer for each neighbourhood with a named, qualified youth worker.
- Reinvest and ring fence funding for local authorities to fulfil the statutory for youth services.
- Work with and listen to young people, as part of the solution not always the problem; we must learn the lessons of marginalising young people’s views and experiences.
This cannot be piecemeal or left to chance. Therefore, NYA is calling for the recruitment and deployment of:
- 10,000 qualified youth workers
- 40,000 trained adult volunteers
- 20,000 young people up skilled as entry-level youth workers
Abbee McLatchie, NYA Director for Youth Work, commented:
“It is critical there is major programme of investment in youth work. It is no coincidence that a loss of youth services over the last decade has led to increased concerns, fear and levels of crime across communities.
Qualified youth workers have specialist skills and experience, working alongside schools and colleges, social care, policing and youth justice. Yet there simply aren’t enough to go around. The erosion of youth services and lack of coordination has exposed young people and their families to gangs, exploitation, trauma and isolation and lack of support in their mental health, addiction or safeguarding. A targeted response to serious violence is of course welcome but to break the cycle, to prevent and reduce crime, means getting in early – working with young people, rather than seeing them as a problem to fix.”
“The announcement of a fully funded Alternative Provision Specialist Taskforce is especially welcome, launched by the Department for Education and supported by the National Youth Agency. This will embed youth workers in multi-disciplinary teams to support vulnerable young people, at risk of dropping out of school, becoming exploited and being involved in gangs, county lines and knife crime. Youth work is a distinct form of education in an approach that engages and supports young people in communities and spaces where young people are at. This can be truly transformational for young people’s lives and play its part too in the Crime Reduction Strategy.”