Police officers ready to hold back rioters at Camden Lock during the disturbances in August last year
Published: 8 May, 2012
by TOM FOOT (Camden New Journal)
A YOUTH team credited with persuading hundreds of teenagers not to go out to last summer's riots in Camden will be severely cut just weeks after it was rated among the best in the country.
Camden's Youth Offending Service (YOS) was commended in a special report from the government's HM Inspectorate drawing high praise from top council chiefs.
It was recognised for its work during the riots in August last year when the YOS sent hundreds of text messages out warning youngsters to stay away from the trouble.
But the YOS – which works with young people at risk of offending and re-offending, and offers counselling and rehabilitation to those who do offend – has now fallen victim to a funding cut from Camden Council.
Camden Unison branch secretary George Binette said: "Camden Council was understandably quick to claim credit after achieving some of the highest inspection scores ever, and in successfully persuading many local young people not to take part in the rioting. Now, however, the council is looking to axe seven YOS posts."
He added: "This is an illustration of a penny-wise, pound-foolish cut in provision at a time when the factors that sparked last summer's violence are only too present, not least historically high and still rising youth unemployment."
The YOS has learned it will have to spend ￡900,000 less than the service had in 2010. The cut means seven jobs will be axed – including three case workers – and some will have their pay reduced by ￡4,500 a year.
A report from the HM Inspectorate said Camden YOS had met its required standards 90 per cent of the time, just below the highest score in the country of 91 per cent.
Praising the service in the New Journal last month, Camden's children and schools associate director Andy Knowles said: “The secret of [Camden's] success is that our case workers show complete commitment. Often the person they are working with has experienced mass negativity, has had poor family relationships, and has been labelled by the community, so this will be their first trusting relationship.”
The council has launched a consultation on the changes.