Hertfordshire's youth offending budget cut by 49 per cent since 2010
PUBLISHED: 06:58 15 November 2019
The budget of Hertfordshire's youth offending team - which helps young people turn away from crime - was cut by almost half from 2010 to 2018.
Figures uncovered by the Labour Party show that £679,980 - 49 per cent - has been taken from the budget since 2010, while knife crime increased over a similar period.
Rosie Newbigging, Labour parliamentary candidate for Welwyn Hatfield, said: "Our communities need to be safe and our young people need support in being diverted away from criminal activity.
"This is misery piled on misery."
Sentences for crimes involving a knife or offensive weapon in Hertfordshire have also been rising over the past five years, according to the Ministry of Justice.
This rise is broadly in line with the national trend of steadily increasing knife crime since 2014.
However, recorded knife crime has fallen - according to the Office of National Statistics.
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In Hertfordshire, the number of serious offences involving a knife in 2018 went down by 13 per cent compared to 2017, while this type of crime increased by six per cent in the rest of the country.
Herts police regularly holds knife amnesties and a total of 681 knives were surrendered in September across the county - including combat knives, a folding lock knife, and a Second World War dagger.
Youth service funding has similarly fallen across Hertfordshire - by around 40 per cent - and now amounts to £18,038,000 in 2017-18.
The Liberal Democrats say they would more than double spending on youth services in Hertfordshire to £39,722,041, which will help tackle rising levels of crime as part of a total ring-fenced fund of £500 million for local authorities.
Liberal Democrat candidate for Welwyn Hatfield, Paul Zukowskyj, said: "Too many people in parts of Hertfordshire feel unsafe walking down their own streets.
"The majority of crime relating to young people in Welwyn Hatfield is anti-social behaviour near shopping areas rather than being in possession of a weapon. This creates a sense of fear among the elderly and vulnerable".
Labour has also pledged a national 'Youth Service Guarantee' to guarantee services for young people.
While the Conservative Chancellor Sajid Javid said in September he would give £500m over five years for a new youth investment fund.