Recent events and negative publicity have done nothing to promote the image of young people in Gloucester.
During the last few weeks a small group of young people have roamed the City in a threatening way, causing serious issues of anti-social behaviour and distress to residents in several areas. This situation is not acceptable, and those young people involved need to be dealt with by the police in an appropriate manner.
Whilst I in no way condone such behaviour the situation cannot be viewed in isolation.
The Conservative government has decimated local authority youth services across the country and in some areas, they have been virtually wiped out. Gloucestershire was one of the first to axe its youth services, closing many youth clubs and leaving young people with nothing to do and nowhere to go.
Similarly, teams of street based youth workers, often working with difficult young people, helped them into positive activities preventing them from drifting into crime and anti-social behaviour. Sadly, such projects no longer exist.
In the past community based police officers have also played a positive role in identifying young people at risk. However, with severe reductions to neighbourhood policing this has resulted in stretched services being unable to respond.
I support the good work being carried out by voluntary and community youth organisations in our City but, with ever shrinking resources and reliant on fund raising they are seriously struggling to cope.
I have always valued young people and have supported local youth organisations with the limited resources at my disposal. Following a Motion that I took to Council I am pleased to say that working with other Labour Councillors, Gloucester now has an emerging youth forum called Rising Gloucester whose main aim is to raise young people’s issues across the City in a positive way.
We need to be clear that most young people in our city are responsible young adults and have much to offer and we should promote them in a positive way. However, we also need to understand that there are some troubled young people who need extra help and support. Unfortunately, many services for such young people have been seriously cut or simply no longer exist.