AN MP has spoken about the “epidemic” of youth crime plaguing seaside towns and offered his solutions for what can be done to tackle it.
Peter Kyle, Labor MP for Hove, said cuts to public services have left vulnerable children with little support.
Mr Kyle described the spate of crimes carried out between Worthing and Hove as “shocking”. They range from shoplifting to arson and knife crime.
He spoke out after The Argus revealed how a parade of shops in Durrington was being continually ransacked by roving children.
We reported that several other shops near railway stations all the way to Hove were seeing similar problems.
The former shadow minister for victims and youth justice slammed the government for cuts to public services which he said have let children down.
Mr Kyle said: “The challenge we have always had is how to help young people make the right choices at the right time.
“That involves support at school, help sometimes for parents, as well as public services having the capacity and time to be there when young people need them most.
“That is what I’m most critical of the government for. Youth services have been cut by more than half, police have seen staff cuts, the budget for local authorities has been cut.
“The biggest cuts are to community policing.
“The withdrawal of teaching assistants, reduction in school hours, increase in class sizes – all of these are impacting children from challenging backgrounds or those who exhibit challenging behavior the most.”
Figures from youth charity YMCA detailed how local authority spending across the country totaled £379 million in 2020/21. This was a £1.1 billion cut in youth services compared with 2010/11 which is more than a 70 per cent decrease.
Funding to the police service fell from £19.3 billion in 2009/10 to just under £16.4 billion in 2016/17. It has risen year on year since and stands at £24.9 billion in 2021/22, according to HM Treasury data.
The latest data released by the Home Office showed there were 142,759 police officers in England and Wales in June 2022 compared with 143,734 in March 2011. During this period, the population of England and Wales has increased by 3.5 million.
Home Office data analyzed by The Guardian showed there are now 235 officers per 100,000 people compared with 264 in 2011, a real-terms reduction in the number of officers over the decade of 11 per cent.
Mr Kyle has put forward ideas for harsher sentences for adults involving children in crime, as well as “empowering” victims of crime and protecting neighborhoods from persistent antisocial behaviour.
He tabled an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that any crime where an adult involved a child in criminal exploitation, such as county lines drug trafficking, would get a 14-year prison sentence.
He previously spoke about this to The Argus following our report on how drugs were being advertised on the internet.
Mr Kyle also pointed towards Labor policy which includes a clause regarding antisocial behavior affecting neighbourhoods.
He said: “Currently, it is very hard for a neighborhood or local area that is experiencing antisocial behavior to meet the threshold that triggers intervention.
“I put in there a clause that made it much easier for communities to come together and say that they demand police action. That will trigger a review from a senior officer into all the behavior happening in an area, a consultation of all residents and a plan of action going forward.
“In other words, when communities know that things are going in the wrong direction, they shouldn’t have to wait until things become criminal and people are hurt or property is damaged before there is action.
“Communities often know this before authorities do, they know their communities well. Their insight and experiences need to have power.
“Once crimes have been committed, the Labor Party want to empower victims from the very start.
“A defendant is read their rights for an alleged crime. After this law is passed, the victim would also be read their rights at a similar time.
“Victims have rights but so few of them actually know that fact or know what they are. They have the right to information and the outcome of any proceedings. So few victims know this.
“Victims often have their dignity taken from them, the relationship you have with the place you love living in is changed.
“These are bold policy propositions we are making, but they’re sensitive. The public know we have a big problem with the growing crime epidemic and plummeting convictions such as rape, assault and burglary.”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/22702014.mp-peter-kyle-tackling-youth-crime-sussex/?ref=rss MP Peter Kyle on tackling youth crime in Sussex