Has scrapping youth clubs led to an increase in youth offending?

Has scrapping youth clubs led to an increase in youth offending?

Published by Maria Greenwood at 10:51am 3rd February 2020.

Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner thinks the scrapping of youth clubs may have accelerated young offending in the county.

Martin Underhill claims the move come from the former County Council. 

The hypothesis comes from Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill.

He says that without  future investment in youth services anti-social behaviour among young people is likely to increase which may lead to more young people being arrested.


A report to Dorset councillors this week says that nationally there has been a real-terms decline of 70 per cent in funding for youth services with the loss of 4,500 youth worker posts and the closure of 760 youth centres.  It says:

"Whether diversionary, developmental, educational or protective in focus, young people reap significant benefits from these activities both at the time, and later in life.

"The evidenced based practice around early intervention is also clear, and has been acknowledged by successive governments."

Martyn Underhill

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said he:

"Remains cautious about the current provision of youth services in Dorset (universal and targeted), and acknowledges the accepted evidence base that has linked this reduction to the challenges of youth offending and serious youth violence (particularly knife crime) that have been the feature of many towns and cities across the country in recent years."

Mr Underhill says he would encourage additional funding for youth services in Dorset which, he believes will help combat rising youth offending. A report to the county police and crime panel, concludes:

"With a recognised retreat in the provision of universal, protective youth services it is perhaps understandable that the numbers of first time entrants into the youth justice system have increased."

police knocking at door

Mr Underhill says that without adequate provision for young people to steer them away from crime and anti-social behaviour the police may be left with no option but to arrest some young offenders:

"In the absence of adequate provision, some challenges in relation to youth antisocial behaviour and low-level offending have emerged.

"In these circumstances, despite the collective desire of partners to provide a preventative or diversionary solution, an enforcement solution might be necessary."

youth football

The report to the panel says that a Youth Violence Commission asked young people: “if there was one thing you could change that you think would make young people safer, what would it be?’

The most popular response of the 2,200 young people who responded was “the provision of more youth centres, sports clubs and other youth activities in their local areas”.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter