Youth Violence

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 7:33 pm on 10th October 2018.

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Photo of Tracey Crouch Tracey Crouch The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 7:33 pm, 10th October 2018

I would not dream of inadvertently misleading the House by trying to respond to a question for another Department to which I would not know the answer. However, there is a Home Office official in the Box this evening, and they will be able to provide a written response to the hon. Lady’s questions. I am sure that Home Office questions are also just around the corner.

An essential part of the approach, as the report notes, will be to address early intervention. The bit of money I am responsible for—the £90 million dormant accounts money that was recently announced—and the £200 million youth endowment fund announced by the Home Secretary will help to address this issue. I am not pretending that they will solve the issues, but both are designed to provide long-term support and learning.

The commission also calls for a reform of youth services. I agree with a number of the points in that section of the report, including the finding that funding and services are fragmented and siloed. The House might have missed it, but in early August I published the civil society strategy, within which I committed to a review of the statutory duty for local authority youth services. If, following that review, the guidance needs to be strengthened, we will do so. However, this is not all about the Government, and that was very much acknowledged in the commission’s report. We need the public, private, social and faith sectors to work much more closely at a community level.

It is really important that the House gets to celebrate the positive role that youth work can play in keeping our young people safe. I recognise, as I am sure we all do, the transformational impact that high-quality interventions can have on all young people, but especially on those who are vulnerable to exploitation or at risk of making poor life choices. We value the role that community youth organisations have in building trust between young people and the wider community. They can play an important role in signposting and facilitating access to services and overcoming barriers to engagement. It would be foolish not to acknowledge that there have been cuts to local authority youth services, but there has also been substantial innovation in new forms of delivery—not least in the hon. Lady’s home borough, where Youth First, the mutual that delivers youth services in Lewisham, has received direct funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to develop its capacity.

It is also worth acknowledging the support that the Home Office is giving to the “For Jimmy” project in three schools in Deptford as part of the Safe Havens programme. A trusted relationship with a responsible adult or peer, a safe space, and finding a “teachable moment” are key parts of the youth work approach and we support them.