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Youth crime blamed on cuts as teen vandal is charged for Lisson Green school attack

PUBLISHED: 14:51 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:28 07 September 2010

CUTBACKS in funding for youth groups and relaxed regimes in detention centres are leading to a rise in anti-social behaviour among teenagers, say community groups. The claims come as a 13-year-old was convicted for one of a series of violent vandalism

CUTBACKS in funding for youth groups and relaxed regimes in detention centres are leading to a rise in anti-social behaviour among teenagers, say community groups.

The claims come as a 13-year-old was convicted for one of a series of violent vandalism attacks that wrought destruction in nurseries across Lisson Green this summer.

Jawar Ali, 25, from the youth group the London Tigers, said youngsters in the area are being drawn into this type of low-level crime due to boredom.

He said: "The problem is the lack of organised activity on the Lisson Green estate compared to what there used to be and so people are just hanging around.

"The funding for the Church Street sport programme we used to run has ended and this is also true for other groups putting on organised activities.

"So now there's not enough for kids to do which will take them out of the area or put them into competitions - this is what excites young people."

Church Street Neighbourhood Centre allocated council funding to the sports programme, which ended in March 2008.

Mr Ali also said that the prospect of going to youth detention centres was not deterring youngsters because they had no fear of the regimes there.

"They think doing time is not a problem because it's cool and easy," he said.

"A lot of time they go to these centres and they get fed, play on PlayStations and have no issues to worry about."

Akbar Hussein, a youth development worker at the Marylebone Bangladesh Society, agreed that funding cuts for youth groups may have a negative impact on their work to prevent increases in offences including knife and gun crime.

He said: "Right now it's critical because funding has been cut left, right and centre. In the summer holidays it's hard because with only a certain amount of funding there's only so much we can do. "

Over the school holidays nurseries in Lisson Green were regularly targeted by teenage vandals.

And last week a 13-year-old boy was given a final warning - the youth equivalent of an adult caution - for kicking down the fencing at the Independent Mothers Pre-School (IMPS), Luton Street in July.

It followed vandalism at a neighbouring Luton Street nursery.

Staff at that nursery said it had become commonplace for them to arrive in the morning and be faced with broken gates, offensive graffiti and burnt toys.

Workers at both nurseries spoke of their relief that police had brought one of the culprits for the vandalism to justice.

Carol Maku, a supervisor at IMPS, said: "We're definitely happy about the arrest. Fingers crossed it will help put an end to all this now."

Marco Torquati, the manager of Church Street neighbourhood centre, said of the Church Street sport programme: "The funding was always on the basis that it was funding for a pilot project and then they would either have a secure basis for funding or be funded by another mainstream organisation.

"If you look at the range of facilities around here for young people I deny anyone to say there's not enough for young.

Officers are still investigating the other incidents of vandalism and have appealed for anyone with information about the crimes to call 020-7321 7574.

Sanchez Manning - Sanchez.Manning@hamhigh.co.uk

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