The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, last week visited one of the first of hundreds of activities he is funding to help keep young people away from the dangers of crime. This is the first stage in a roll out of new or expanded activities for young Londoners in areas worst affected by knife crime and targeted at the most vulnerable in the capital.
Speaking at Hackney Wick F.C., a project funded by his Young Londoners fund, the Mayor said that policing alone will not solve violent crime. He highlighted his commitment to focusing on prevention, and set out how he is bringing forward some of the money from his £45m Young Londoners Fund to invest in a series of projects providing a range of diversionary activities from football and swimming to cookery lessons for about 3,500 young Londoners who are most at risk of becoming involved in crime this summer.
In stark contrast, the government has failed to bring forward any of the £11m Early Intervention Youth Fund, announced as part of their Serious Violence Strategy over three months ago, in time to provide much-needed activities for the school holidays.
Sadiq is also warning that while his intervention will make a difference, massive government cuts continue to decimate many of the youth programmes that young Londoners rely upon. He is clear that the government need to do much more to tackle the root causes of crime – and that by failing to fund prevention properly, the government is failing London’s youth. A recent London Assembly report showed that at least £39 million has been cut from council youth service budgets across London, leading to the closure of at least 81 youth centres and major council-supported youth projects, and 800 full-time youth service posts disappearing. Over a million pounds more is set to disappear over the next year and since 2011, the cumulative amount not spent on services for young people in London is now more than £145 million. The government, in contrast, have announced an £11m fund over two years for the whole of England and Wales.