The blame game

Dramatic headlines in this week’s Islington Tribune: Attack on youth worker cuts when 30 gangs are on streets; Met Police adviser warns that a generation is growing up without support. A SENIOR adviser to the Met Police has warned that gangs are flourishing in Islington because of cuts in youth and community services….

The adviser in question is Claudia Webbe who regularly blames ‘cuts in youth services’ by Islington’s Liberal Democrat Council for youth crime and disorder in our borough. However Ms Webbe is not an independent commentator, but an unsuccessful Labour council candidate who has her own political agenda.

In fact Islington Council spends more per head on youth services, both council and voluntary, than most other boroughs. The only cuts made to youth service budgets in recent years have been to admin functions – in line with the Government’s own guidance on efficiency savings.

Islington has many adventure playgrounds, voluntary youth groups and after school clubs; but even the most right-on youth worker will not be on the streets at 1am when groups of youths are out racing mopeds or taking drugs. As a police adviser, Ms Webbe could make a start by getting the police to spend less time filling in forms, and more time out on the beat, day and night.

Islington also has problems of overcrowded housing, family breakdown, lack of open space, drugs, alcohol-related violence, and a growing gap between rich and poor. Unicef report that British children are some of the most deprived in Europe, despite ten years of a Labour government; the latest report on school-children finds they are stressed and depressed by a dangerous, consumerist world. These are big problems, requiring big solutions, not a cheap and inaccurate attack on the local council. So much for community cohesion….

At a time when Martin Dinnegan’s own family are appealling for politicians to sink their differences and work together, Ms Webbe’s partisan words hit a very sour note.

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