The Liberal Democrats have announced they would more than double spending on youth services in Oxfordshire to £7,769,119, to help tackle levels of crime and antisocial behaviour among young people. This would form part of a total ring-fenced fund of £500 million for Local Authorities across England to spend on youth services, providing young people with positive and safe alternatives to gangs.
Under the Conservatives, council spending on youth services has been cut by £300 million - or 40 per cent - since 2015. Knife crime has risen by 80% over the same period, with a record high of 47,500 offences recorded in the year to June 2019. Research has also found the areas with the biggest cuts to youth services have seen some of the biggest increases in knife crime.
The Liberal Democrats would also take a public health approach to tackling youth violence, modelled on the successful approach taken by Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit. This would involve identifying risk factors and treating them early on, with youth workers, police, teachers, health professionals and social services all working closely together to prevent young people falling into gangs and violence.
Richard Benwell, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Wantage Constituency, said:
“Youth services like Wantage Sweatbox provide brilliant services for young people, bringing enjoyment, learning, care and community spirit.
"Funding cuts and rent increases from central Government and Oxfordshire County Council have left many youth centres short, needing to raise many thousands of pounds to keep their doors open.
“Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for young people by doubling spending on youth services to £7,769,119 a year in Oxfordshire."