West Yorkshire’s PCC welcomes annual Vulnerability Report by the Children’s Commissioner for England (4 July 2019)

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), was at the launch of the annual Vulnerability Report by the Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, who has called for an urgent £10bn a year investment to help rebuild services for vulnerable children.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "I welcome this report which lays bare the devastating and stark impact of sustained austerity cuts on our most vulnerable children, who deserve the best start in life, and in too many cases are just not getting it.

"I also support the Commissioner's call for a reinvigoration and extension of the Troubled Families programme, investment in early years, Sure Start programmes, family hubs, parenting support and schools to open later and in during the holidays developing more youth services to help tackle youth gang violence.

"I have previously spoken out about the huge effect of funding cuts to core local services such as youth workers, Youth Offending Teams and Children's Social Care pressures. Young people who aren't attending school for whatever reason may have had mentors and role models in youth services which have been reduced by 60% or more according to this detailed report, outside of school those positive community influences in that form are now very thin on the ground.

"Work is urgently required cross government to ensure that there is a stronger focus on and investment in upstream, preventatives services and I urge both Prime Ministerial candidates and Government to deal with this as a matter of urgency.

"It also builds on Anne Longfield's previous report, looking at children in England who are members of gangs which found that a child being excluded or off-rolled from school increases their susceptibility to being targeted in gang violence and crime markedly.

"We know that these children are then potentially much more vulnerable to being exploited by criminal gangs, and all too often exposed to drugs, serious violence and knife crime.

"That causes many problems, certainly with the exploitation of young people, in many cases by organised criminal groups running 'County Lines' drug related crime.

"This is starting to have a hugely detrimental impact on many communities and needs to be addressed, to not do so would be a totally false economy.

"Collectively with support from schools, policing, education and the social care sector we have to get the positive message out there and work together to tackle these really negative influences and I urge the Government to take heed of this very stark report and make the necessary changes and investment to ensure our young people are getting access to the best life chances."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019