A Cost-Effective Approach to Crime Prevention Based on Evidence

There are concerns about public awareness regarding the role of Police and Crime Commissioners. Many of those who are familiar with the new posts still understand them as largely about policing, ignoring the role they must play in wider crime prevention initiatives. One such role and existing and future funding stream will be that of youth crime prevention.

Since the establishment of the Coalition Government, Home Office and Ministry of Justice grants to local Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) have dropped by 20% last year and around 4% this year with potentially more to come. Much of this money had been successfully invested by YOTs in schemes run by them and the voluntary and community sector.

The schemes are designed to target and intervene with young people at risk of or on the cusp of offending and anti-social behaviour. When I worked at the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (the public body which disseminates and monitors these grants to YOTs) I was responsible for the delivery of new Labour government grants in excess of £40M per year to start these schemes I worked with some of the most alienated and challenging groups of young people in some of the most deprived areas of England and Wales.

Youth crime doesn’t come from nowhere – it has causes. We looked at the evidence-base- education, family, personal, neighbourhood – and worked out the required intervention and which agencies needed to work closely together. Working with both criminal justice and child welfare organisations we put together effective partnerships on a national and local level which identified research proven programmes, evaluated their on-going implementation and established a network of effective practice in local neighbourhoods- at the very heart of local communities.
These programmes worked, not just in keeping young people out of the criminal justice system . Since 2007/08 there are:
• 55% feweryoung people entering the youth justice system
• 30% fewer young people in custody
• 29% fewer re-offences committed by young people
Alongside this of course are the huge reductions in the number of personal and community victims and significant savings in the net cost to the taxpayer.

All this is now at risk. The cuts in the budgets to the YOTs have already seen many of these programmes close. From April next year the budgets for these programmes will be in the hands of the new Police and Crime Commissioners who may or may not understand or recognise the importance of youth crime prevention. If elected I will ensure that I work closely with those agencies – Police, Schools, Probation and Youth Offending Teams, Children’s Services, the new Health and Wellbeing Boards and others to establish a firm and practical strategy to continue what is an essential part of the fight to drive down offending and anti-social behaviour.

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Bob Ashford slams Tory-led Government’s cuts to frontline police – 141 officers to go from Avon and Somerset

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) independently assesses police forces and policing across activity from neighbourhood teams to serious crime and the fight against terrorism – in the public interest. Its latest report – Policing in Austerity –  provides grim reading for residents of Avon and Somerset as officer numbers will be reduced by 141.

Bob Ashford, Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Avon and Somerset responded quickly: “The Chief Constable, the police, police support services and the Police authority have done a tremendous job in the face of these 20% cuts to the policing budget and this is outlined in the HMIC report.

However, we are still looking at a significant reduction in frontline policing and support staff and a heavy reliance on financial reserves to reduce the impact of these draconian cuts. The Tory-led Government is cutting our local police, making it harder not easier to fight crime. The Tory Police and Crime Commissioner candidate in Avon and Somerset will no doubt defend these cuts to policing his government is introducing–  at Somerset County Council he was renowned for cutting services. He is failing to stand up for the police and for our communities.”

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East whose constituency is in Avon and Somerset said, “David Cameron said frontline policing would not be hit by his huge 20% cuts to our force, but the truth is that 141 frontline officers are being cut in Avon and Somerset alone. Neighbourhood officers, 999 response and traffic police are being cut right across the country.

The blame for these cuts lies squarely with the Tory-led Government. Our Chief Constable has been put in an impossible decision by this Government’s decision to cut police funding by 20%. “We recognise savings need to be made, but the Government has doubled Labour’s cuts to police funding, and made the steepest cuts in the first two years. That’s not an attack on waste, that’s an attack on the police.”

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, gave the national picture: “This report shows frontline policing is being badly hit – breaking the promises the Prime Minister made and taking unfair risks with community safety. Thousands of officers being lost from emergency response and neighbourhood teams. And HMIC are clear it is likely to get even worse. The Metropolitan Police have a funding gap of £233m, meaning more officers are set to be lost.

This Government has been trying to spin its way out of the damning evidence on police cuts for far too long. It is clear the Tory-led Government is cutting too far and too fast into policing – cutting the very police officers that people want to see out on the streets protecting the public. “They need to change course and accept Labour’s argument and the expert evidence that a 12% reduction in police spending would be manageable, but 20% is hitting frontline services.

The Tory-led Government has no strategy to cut crime, only to cut police officers. Chaotic changes to national policing, undermining police morale and reductions in police powers alongside the scale of cuts are doing serious damage to policing. Today’s report into last year’s riots shows the number of police on the streets really mattered. Yet instead of working with the police to prevent any repetition of last year’s riots, the Government has made it harder by cutting the officers they need.”  Policing in austerity: One year on,