Voluntary and community organisations working with black young people affected by crime are struggling with financial uncertainty and “conflicting” government agendas, according to a study published today.
While groups are expected to address the over-representation of black young people in the criminal justice system, they are not given the support to do so, the research found.
‘Constant struggle for survival’
The report by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies said many were in a “constant struggle for survival” while competing for limited resources within a “conservative” funding environment.
The study, based on interviews with organisations in four English cities, found that many were given short-term funding for “ill-thought out” interventions that failed to address the needs of young people.
It also highlighted that the government’s ‘community cohesion’ agenda discouraged funding for groups providing services to specific ethnic groups.
‘Significant compromises to secure funding’
Some groups said they had to make “significant compromises” in order to accept funding that provided “limited opportunities” to meet young people’s needs.
Groups also felt statutory organisations viewed them “tokenistically” by using them to gain access to and credibility with young people.
Helen Mills, the report’s author, said that while organisations wanted to provide “holistic” support for young people, this approach was being “diluted”.
Richard Garside, director for the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, said: “The picture drawn by the research is of a sector under intense pressure to deliver services they consider to be inadequate, if not counterproductive, against the background of contradictory government agendas and an overly bureaucratic, inflexible and inadequate funding environment.”