Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Katy Bourne has secured £890,616 from the government’s Early Intervention Youth Fund to work with young people and attempt to steer them away from a life of crime.
The money is also intended to help create what are described as ‘positive youth projects’ in local communities.
However Councillor Godfrey Daniel, one of Hastings’ representatives on East Sussex County Council has questioned whether the police are the best recipients of the cash.
Speaking at ESCC’s full council meeting yesterday Mr Daniel said he was ‘slightly anxious’. A former youth worker, he told councillors: “I don’t think the police are the best people to do youth work, they do good crime fighting, I’d like to see the money under our control with an education base.”
He also questioned whether it was right that all the money was all earmarked for working with ‘likely’ offenders, “We have to grab people before they become likely offenders,” he told the meeting. Mr Daniel said he’d like to see, “…general money for general youth work for ordinary kids in our community.”
Earlier this year, in response to increasing serious crime, the government published its Serious Violence Strategy, announcing potential funding for projects which would encourage young people to make positive choices instead of getting involved in crime.
Sussex PCC Ms Bourne, working with Hastings MP Amber Rudd, made a bid for part of the funding and secured £890.616.
Ms Rudd said: “This funding will give Sussex Police opportunities to reduce anti-social behaviour while at the same time helping to turn around young lives, which may otherwise have been blighted by negative consequences. For Hastings, it will mean we can expect additional support which is very welcome, particularly as I have been hosting regular public anti-social behaviour meetings in Hastings since 2014.”
Mrs Bourne says she is delighted to have been successful in her bid: “From speaking to local residents, I know that anti-social behaviour has become a disruptive issue for our local communities. However, the first answer is not to criminalise our young people, we must instead bolster our resources to assess their needs and stage a positive early intervention. We do not wish to commit them to a life of crime before first understanding their circumstances.”
The extra funding will help the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector as well as schools, health, statutory partners and the police get involved with under 18s at risk of committing serious violence and those who have already come to the attention of the police.
Ms Bourne says she will shortly announce the specifics of how the funding will be used.