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‘Tough love’ Labour youth programme announced by Yvette Cooper

The shadow home secretary said young people have been ‘totally let down’ by the Conservatives and promised Labour will ‘give young people their future back’

Archie Mitchell
Tuesday 10 October 2023 12:31 BST
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Yvette Cooper promised Labour will take a “tough love” approach to tackling knife crime, youth violence and the mental health crisis facing young people.

The shadow home secretary said young people have been “totally let down” by the Conservatives and promised Labour will “give young people their future back”.

In a speech reminiscent of Tony Blair’s "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" pledge ahead of the 1997 election, she set out plans for Labour to roll out youth hubs across Britain to identify those most at risk of being drawn into violent crime and offering them mental health support.

But, as part of the “tough love” approach, Ms Cooper said: “For those who repeatedly cause trouble in their community or are found carrying knives, there also need to be stronger interventions and clear consequences to stop their behaviour escalating and to keep other young people safe.”

Ms Cooper pointed to a series of statistics laying bare the difficulties facing young people.

She said a record number of children and young people are seeking mental health support from the NHS.

She also highlighted analysis from the think tank Crest suggesting over 200,000 children are vulnerable to serious violence. And she said there are a record number of children falling victim to crime and highlighted knife crime among young people in particular.

“For too long, teenagers have been pushed from pillar to post between local authorities, mental health services, the police and youth offending teams,” Ms Cooper said.

She added: “That’s why we are setting up a cross-Government ‘tough love’ initiative, with new youth hubs and proper local plans to identify those most at risk and help them access the support they need.”

Under the cross-government proposals drawn up by Labour, a new programme would be rolled out across the UK to identify vulnerable young people to stop them being pulled into a life of crime.

The party also wants to create new "National Futures" youth hubs to collect services for at-risk young people, and would place youth workers in A&E units, custody centres and pupil referral units to help those with mental health issues or straying into criminal behaviour.

It will also insist that existing law enforcement measures should be better used to prevent crime.

At the conference on Tuesday, Labour also promised to will introduce legal advocates for rape victims if it wins power.

Shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood said the representatives would be brought in in every police force area across the country.

“I am proud to announce that a Labour government will introduce legal advocates for the victims of rape in every police force area,” she said.

She added: “We will do this by redirecting a portion of the funding police and crime commissioners receive for victims’ services.

“Today, rape victims are systematically failed.”

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