Teen crime in Pontefract 'linked to youth service cutbacks'

Concerns about anti-social behaviour levels in Pontefract have been raised on multiple occasions this year.
Concerns about anti-social behaviour levels in Pontefract have been raised on multiple occasions this year.

Recent spikes of youth crime in Pontefract are linked to cutbacks in youth services and a lack of things for teenagers to do, it's been suggested.

Local councillor David Jones said that youngsters in the town were becoming more involved in anti-social behaviour.

It follows revelations last week that around 14,000 youth workers across the country have lost their jobs during the past decade.

Hundreds of youth centres have also closed during that time.

Speaking at a Wakefield Council scrutiny meeting on Monday, Coun Jones said that youth provision was "becoming more important".

He added: "That's because of some of the things we're picking up on the estates and the children who are getting into trouble now.

"In the past week or two there's been various operations going on in our area and that's because some of the children are becoming a real problem.

"The timing of it fits with the cuts in those areas, and I know there are children who are really struggling and getting involved in all sorts of activities."

Earlier this year, police inspector Paul Sullivan said that officers were struggling to cope with "wild" and "out of control" young offenders in the Five Towns and South Elmsall areas.

He reported how a gang had been caught throwing bricks at cars on one estate, and that some serious incidents coming to police attention were involving children under the age of 10.

And in April, Coun Jones' Labour colleague, Celia Loughran, said she was concerned about anti-social behaviour getting worse in Pontefract because young people had "nowhere to go".

Coun Jones added that grant funding had been spent in a bid to address the shortage of things for youngsters to do.

He said: "We need people out and about and on the ground talking to these younger people and putting activities on."

Local Democracy Reporting Service