The summer riots highlighted some tough problems in tackling the underlying issues of crime and anti-social behaviour. Tough problems require creative local solutions and the Chief Cultural and Leisure Officer’s Association have now released some preventative options for decision makers to consider, using the creative, cultural and sporting sectors to engage young people.
Central government and local authorities spend over £800 million per annum dealing with youth crime, primarily through the Youth Justice Board nationally and Youth Offending Teams locally. Ten per cent was spent on trying to prevent young people becoming offenders. Most of the rest was incurred in dealing with offending behaviour, including over £300 million on custody, which is used to deal with 3% of offences. The National Audit Office has estimated that the total costs to the UK economy of offending by young people could be up to £11 billion a year. cCLOA is proposing a rethink at local level around efforts to prevent offending, and in times of austerity investing in prevention more creatively.
With the cost of placing one young person in custody for a year at around £45,000, it is clear that councils and their partners will need to renew the focus on efficient and innovative ways of providing joined up services to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
Furthermore, as new arrangements for the governance of policing and or community safety partnerships and funding develop, it is vital that creative, cultural and sporting preventative activity is an integrated part of local planning. The examples published in our report demonstrate cost effective ways of engaging young people in positive and life changing activity.
Interviews with young people after the summer riots involved have revealed motivations that many local authorities and community safety partners have heard in “listening “exercises for many years. Young people had “nothing better to do”, or wanted “something exciting to do”. They articulated little in the way of prospects or “nothing to lose”. Others had no attachment to their community or felt aggrieved that provisions in their area were being removed by authorities. None of this takes away the decision making to take part in criminal activity – young people and older people made a choice during these events of the summer.
The role of Culture and Sport in reducing crime and anti social behaviour offers some alternative options for local partners using the positive engagement of young people through sport and culture. This publication invites Government, local authorities, police and community safety partnerships to be creative drawing on a series of successful interventions across the country reducing crime, anti social behaviour and the fear of crime.
We have submitted the report as evidence to the the Riots Communities and Victims Panel and recieved endorsement from both Local Government Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers. Future discussions are planned with the Youth Justice Board.
I do hope that you find the document informative and, in order to help us grow the body of evidence, invite you to share your own local best practice by completing and returning this case studies template.
Richard Hunt, Chair, Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association.