Crime-fighting project faces cash crisis

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THE future of a youth project which has helped slash anti-social behaviour in South Tyneside hangs in the balance today, after its funding was withdrawn.

Positive Futures delivered a range of weekly sports sessions to youngsters aged 10 to 19 at disadvantaged ‘hot spot’ areas across the borough.

The crime-busting project, run by the council’s community safety and anti-social behaviour teams, enjoyed remarkable success and has offered positive support to dozens of youngsters over the last 12 months.

But the Home Office, which funded the national programme, ended financial support for it at the end of March.

Now it’s feared that if new funding is not identified, the scheme could close – resulting in a negative impact on borough, Statistics show that crime in the Harton area of South Shields alone was reduced by 34 per cent and anti-social behaviour was down 24 per cent between April and December last year.

A report to the council’s East Shields Community Area Forum (Caf) says: “Should the project end due to lack of funding, there is a danger that it will have a negative impact on not only the young people, but the surrounding communities.”

South Tyneside Council – which is struggling to make millions of pounds of financial savings itself – has been asked to contribute an estimated £25,000 towards the cost of running the scheme across the borough.

Last night, members of East Shields Caf had been due to discuss putting £5,000 towards the project in its area, but the item was withdrawn just hours before the meeting.

A council spokesman said: “The application to the Community Area Forum has been withdrawn.

“We have contacted the applicant for further details. Once we have this, the application will be considered as soon as possible.”

Nationally, more than 60 per cent of Positive Futures projects have secured funding from the new police and crime commissioners and other local partners. Vera Baird, Northumbria police and crime commissioner, said she had allocated the maximum amount of funding available to South Tyneside, to enable the programme to continue.

A spokeswoman for her said: “Positive Futures funding was through the Home Office and came to an end in March.

“Local authorities had advance notification. This funding was never part of the police and crime commissioner’s remit.

“The Home Office gave PCCs reduced funding to allocate to Community Safety Partnerships.

“Despite Government cuts, Mrs Baird allocated South Tyneside more than 80 per cent of the funding they received in 2012/13.

“It was then up to each local authority how they would spend their money, by presenting a report to the police and crime commissioner on their priorities.

“The remaining Community Safety Partnership funding is committed for schemes across Northumbria in line with the commissioner’s five priorities.”

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