Ministers have been accused of risking the lives of young people across the UK after scrapping a scheme which combats youth violence.
The Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation Peer Review Network was set up by the Home Office in the wake of the London riots in 2011 and helped local areas develop strategies for dealing with gang culture, The Guardian reports.
In a leaked letter the department said the funding ‘will be ending at the end of March’.
The scheme was set up to stop teenagers from being lured into gangs, and now a Labour MP is calling for a new drive to counter the ‘glamorised’ portrayal of gangs in popular culture.
Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham and former shadow business secretary, is hoping to open a parliamentary debate on the issue.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, he said:
This is a retrograde step which will seriously compromise efforts to reduce gang and serious youth violence. If it is being done to cost cut, I say you cannot put a price on the lives of our young people.
He went on to say the government will now have to work incredibly hard to reach youngsters who are unemployed, and to deter them from being attracted to gangs. Chuka added that further ‘intensive work’ was required in schools too.
June Addai – the grandmother of Marcel, 17, who was murdered after he was chased by a gang of up to 15 people – said the government should be increasing, rather than cutting the funding keeping young people away from gangs.
Speaking to The Guardian, she said:
I think it should be a priority for them, a top priority. The government seem to be cutting everything. Children have nowhere to go, they need clubs to go to rather than hanging out on the streets where they can get into trouble. They get left behind.
2015 saw fifteen teenagers killed in knife attacks in London- the most since 2008. Surely something needs to be done?