WORK to keep young people in Gwent away from a life of crime has been praised in Parliament - but services are "at breaking point", an MP has warned.

Speaking during a debate on work to tackle knife crime and other violence, Newport East MP Jessica Morden applauded work by Gwent Police and other organisations to keep youngsters in the city on the straight and narrow.

But she warned youth services are "at breaking point" and need more investment in order to prevent crime levels from rising.

"We need to keep on our guard and invest in our young people," she said. "As our police and crime commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert, said last week, serious and organised crime affects all communities across Wales and no single agency can resolve the problem alone.


"That is why, in Gwent, partnership work has been so important.

"Dismantling crime groups has been backed up by a multi-agency approach to identify and work with vulnerable individuals at risk of criminality and violence."

The Labour MP said, over the past six months, Gwent Police had made 163 arrests relating to serious organised crime, seized around £600,000 in cash, 50 vehicles and "hundreds of kilos" of class A and B drugs.

And she applauded partnership work involving the police and Newport City Council along with organisations including Barnado’s, Newport Live, Crimestoppers, the Welsh Government and others on preventing crime, including delivering lessons and advice to pupils in city schools.

Ms Morden also singled out the Newport Live Positive Futures programme, through which young people get involved with sport, mentoring and development as a way to deter them from crime.

"It is partnership work at its best," she said. "This is new work, but we are already beginning to see individuals that it has helped.

"Lives are changing as young people are being helped to avoid a life of crime."

Speaking afterwards, Ms Morden warned these schemes required investment.

"This comes against the backdrop of swathing cuts to local councils and the police," she said. "Nationally police budgets were cut by £2.7 billion in real terms between 2010 and 2018, leaving police numbers across England and Wales at their lowest level in 30 years.

"Gwent Police saw its budget reduced by over 40 per cent over the same time period, leading to the loss officers and staff.

“I hope Government will consider the potential of what could be achieved if these cuts were reversed. I firmly believe that with significant investment, preventative action could be one of the answers to much of the youth crime and violence we see.”