BLACKBURN with Darwen’s youth offending team has had its funding slashed by 40 per cent in the last nine years, the latest figures show.

Statistics released on the government’s website following a request from the Shadow Justice Secretary, Richard Burgon, show that since 2010 Blackburn with Darwen’s youth offending team’s funding has been cut by almost £250,000.

Youth offending teams work with young people that get into trouble with the police. They look into the background of a young person and try to help them stay away from crime. They also run courses to help prevent crime and support young people throughout the criminal justice system.

In 2010/11 funding for YOTs in Blackburn with Darwen was £600,786, while the rest of Lancashire received, £2,031,739. This was cut in the years up to 2018, with funding for Blackburn with Darwen now £359,805 and £1,356,763 for Lancashire.

Executive member for children, young people and education at Blackburn with Darwen council, Maureen Bateson, said there was a massive short fall in children’s services, with cuts to youth offending teams being just one in a long list.

She said: “One of the things our council has to try and do is keep kids out of care and out of the criminal justice system, and without that early intervention, these cuts mean an increase in kids moving into areas like that.

"In Blackburn with Darwen we are working hard to keep the figures below the national average, but we wish they would give us some idea of how we are expected to tackle early intervention without funding.

“Despite this, we can’t overlook the excellent work that Blackburn with Darwen council has done.

“However, the Tory government have done immense damage to our young people and with things like County Lines, it can only get worse.”

Nationally, central government funding for youth offending teams (YOTs) has been slashed by more than half from £145m in 2010/11 to £71m in 2017/18.

Mr Burgon asked the Justice Department to reveal the value of central government grants given to YOTs for each local authority since 2010.

He said: “Our communities benefit so much from their youth offending teams. They do so much good work in stopping young people committing crime or becoming victims of crime.

“It was completely unacceptable for the Tories and, in coalition, the Lib Dems to cut this funding. But it is appalling that, with youth violence rising, the government is still failing to prioritise funding for this essential service – with below-inflation real terms cuts year after year. You can’t keep the public safe on the cheap.”

Labour parliamentary candidate for Rossendale and Darwen Alyson Barnes said: “Our young people and our communities are being desperately short-changed by this government, the right investment in young people will save tax-payers money in the long run but they have been sacrificed to the dogma of austerity.”