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Youth Services (CSR)

Volume 522: debated on Monday 24 January 2011

4. What funding her Department plans to provide for youth services during the comprehensive spending review period. (35092)

As the Home Secretary told the House during oral questions in December, the Home Office does not provide youth services. However, it does contribute towards local youth crime prevention work, including youth offending teams and family intervention work. We will continue to fund activities that divert young people from crime and will set out our plans for future funding in due course.

Northumbria police are proposing massive cuts in support staff, which will take front-line officers off the streets, including those who work on youth crime prevention, to do back-room jobs that are currently being done by support staff. Will the Minister explain how that will not result in the level of crime going up in Sunderland and Northumbria?

Our challenge is to use the resources that we have in the most effective way possible by freeing up officer time to deal with crime. Front-line services will always matter most to the public. It is up to the local force in Northumberland how to deploy its forces, but other forces are increasing their front-line staff, so perhaps Northumberland should follow suit.

I accept what my hon. Friend the Minister says about her Department not having direct responsibility for the matter, but can she assure me that it and the police will contribute to the review of youth provision led by the Department for Education? There is a lot of learning and expertise in community engagement to be gained by the Home Office and the police.

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend. There is a lot that we can learn, and we will listen to all that comes out of the review and work with the Department for Education. As he will know, youth services are provided by that Department and not the Home Office, but we work closely together.

But does the Minister understand the basic principles of the matter? Youth services are essential to directing young people into positive engagement, and they are better and more cost-effective for the Home Office than dealing with the consequences after young people have got involved in crime. Will she and other Home Office Ministers understand and pursue that, in the way that was suggested in the Justice Committee’s report on justice reinvestment?

That is exactly why the Department for Education’s early intervention grant, worth £2.2 billion in 2011-12, is in place. Early indications of how local areas might make best use of that grant were given in December 2010. It will give them the flexibility to target funding on early interventions, which, as the right hon. Gentleman said, are absolutely vital.