Hundreds of thousands of pounds slashed from youth justice and crime prevention in Wigan

Funds have been cut over the past few years
Funds have been cut over the past few years

Hundreds of thousands of pounds has been slashed from youth justice and crime prevention in Wigan since the Conservatives came to power, figures reveal.

Labour has called on PM Boris Johnson to guarantee resources for youth services, warning that “you can’t keep the public safe on the cheap”.

Government funding for the Wigan youth offending team has been cut by 30 per cent in the last eight years, Ministry of Justice data shows.

The service, which provides support to young people in trouble with the police, has seen its grant fall from £675,038 in 2010-11 to £469,456 last year.

As well as helping young people in custody or under arrest, the teams also work with councils to supervise community sentences and run crime prevention programmes.

Nationally funding for these services has halved since the Tory and Lib-Dem coalition came to power in 2010, falling from £145m to £71m.

The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question by Labour’s shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, who called the cuts “unacceptable”.

He said: “Our communities benefit so much from their youth offending teams. They do so much good work in stopping young people committing or becoming victims of crime. It is appalling that, with youth violence rising, the Government is still failing to prioritise funding for this essential service - with below-inflation real terms cuts year after year.”

Funding for youth offending teams in England and Wales increased slightly between 2016-17 and 2017-18, but only by 0.5 per cent - less than the rate of inflation.

The Wigan team saw its budget increase by just £1,869.

Coun Jenny Bullen, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Making sure our young people are given the right support at the right time in their life is extremely important to us, and we work tirelessly with our partners and community organisations to make that happen.

“Despite seeing our budget from central government drastically cut since 2010 with the council forced to make savings of £141m, the borough has fewer 10 to 17-year-olds entering the youth justice system than the rest of the North West, and a 34 percent reduction since 2014.

“It shows how Wigan Council’s commitment to prevention and investment in our communities through The Deal has had a massive impact on providing opportunities for young people.

“The council has also recently unveiled a further £1m for young people through our Community Investment Fund and we are encouraging community groups and schools across the borough to come forward with ideas for investment.”

A MoJ spokesperson said: “This year, we are increasing funding for frontline services and tackling serious youth violence by targeting priority areas such as knife and gang crime. This investment helps provide the best services for children in, or at risk of entering, the criminal justice system.”

But experts argue that early intervention is most effective at cutting crime, and are calling for more funding for youth services across the board.