JUST ANNOUNCED: Labour will launch Young Futures programme to tackle knife crime

Keir Starmer and Yvette Cooper

Labour will introduce a new youth programme that will tackle knife crime and address rising mental health issues among young people, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has announced.

In her speech to Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Cooper said that the Tory Government has “failed to recognise the growing vulnerability of many teenagers”, and that reforming services for young people will become a major cross-departmental initiative of the next Labour government.

The programme will be a major reform to focus on prevention rather than just sticking plaster policies, and will deliver:

  • A targeted programme in every area to identify the young people most at risk of being drawn into violent crime and build a package of support that responds to the challenges they are facing. This will be achieved through bringing together services at a local level to better coordinate delivery of preventative interventions around the young person, rooted in a strong evidence base.
  • Develop a national network of Young Futures hubs to bring local services together, deliver support for teenagers at risk of being drawn into crime or facing mental health challenges and, where appropriate, deliver universal youth provision.
  • Youth workers in A&E units, custody centres, pupil referral units and communities to target young people who are starting to be drawn into violence.
  • Ensure existing enforcement measures are effectively utilised, including family interventions, the use of curfews, enforcement of penalties, drug and alcohol interventions, community work, and stronger action against the criminal gangs that are drawing young people into crime.

“Young people have been totally let down by this Tory Government, who have failed to recognise the growing vulnerability of many teenagers – be it because of the rise of county lines gangs, impact of damaging content on social media or the pandemic,” Yvette Cooper said.

“Whether it’s addressing knife crime, violence in teenage relationships, or the record number of young people seeking mental health support, this floundering government have never sought to grip the issue and support teenagers and families at a tough time in their lives. 

“We need urgent interventions to stop young people getting drawn into crime or exploitation in the first place. For too long, teenagers have been pushed from pillar to post between local authorities, mental health services, the police and youth offending teams. That’s why we are setting up a cross-Government ‘tough love’ initiative, with new youth hubs and proper local plans to identify those most at risk and help them access the support they need.  

“And for those who repeatedly cause trouble in their community or are found carrying knives, there also need to be stronger interventions and clear consequences to stop their behaviour escalating and to keep other young people safe.  

“A Labour Government will give young people their future back.”

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