The Tory Government has this morning announced £9.8million of grants to projects supporting children and families vulnerable to knife crime and gang culture around the country.
Yet not a single penny has been allocated to any such scheme in Croydon, one of the worst places in London for knife crime.
The grants have been made under what the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government calls its Supporting Families Against Youth Crime fund. The fund started to receive grant funding applications, mainly from local authorities, in October.
Anti-knife crime charities based in Croydon, such as Lives Not Knives, the council and police do not feature among the 21 schemes allocated funding.
Those that do include Enfield (£492,000), Lambeth (£500,000), Brent (£480,000), Greenwich (£498,000 through a mentoring project run by Charlton Athletic), Haringey (£388,000), Islington (£184,000), Tower Hamlets (£499,000), Hammersmith and Fulham (£360,000) and Newham (£335,000).
The biggest grant is £1.3million for a county-wide scheme in Kent, operated out of Medway.
But nothing for Croydon.
Where this might be embarrassing for Croydon’s politicians is that today’s announcement was made by communities minister James Brokenshire, whose parliamentary private secretary until recently was none other than Chris Philp, the Tory MP for Croydon South.
There were 683 knife-related offences in Croydon in the 12 months to March 2017, according to official statistics published last year – making Croydon the third worst borough in London for knife crime. Initiatives in 2018 led by Croydon police Borough Commander Jeff Boothe did seem to be working, with a 13 per cent reduction in incidents of knife crime.
Boothe said last October that such a reduction is “just the beginning”, though his officers’ and other agencies’ work towards improving the safety of youngsters on Croydon’s streets looks as if it has to continue without any financial help from Brokenshire’s fund.
A spokesperson for Lives Not Knives – which provides mentoring and other support services for vulnerable youth in and around Croydon – told Inside Croydon that their charity was completely unaware of the Supporting Families Against Youth Crime fund, even though they receive funding from the Home Office towards some of their work.
According to the Communities department today, “The Supporting Families Against Youth Crime fund will enable keyworkers, community groups, teachers and other professionals working with children and young people at risk, to intervene early and help stop them from becoming drawn into gang crime, serious violence and the youth justice system.”
Part of the funding, £300,000, is earmarked for local authorities “to train frontline staff on how to tackle childhood trauma”. Again, not a penny of that will be received by Croydon Council.
The Whitehall press release stated: “Knife crime continues to be a real concern for communities across the country and this government is determined to act and keep our streets safe.” Though apparently not in Croydon.
Brokenshire’s Communities department refused to say today why no grants had been made to schemes in this borough.
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