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Coalition partners distribute Youth Justice Sport Fund from Ministry of Justice

More than 200 community sport organisations across England and Wales have been awarded new public funding aimed at using sport and physical activity to prevent youth crime and anti-social behaviour. 

The Youth Justice Sport Fund, which is being managed by the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice and StreetGames and co-ordinated by the Sport for Development Coalition, will deliver an investment of up to £5million into a mixture of organisations with a proven record of using sport effectively to reduce crime, between now and 31st March 2023.

The fund is part of a £60million investment into early intervention made earlier this year by the Ministry of Justice. 

The funding will support voluntary and community sports organisations – ranging from charities and trusts to housing associations and local authorities – to carry out targeted work supporting children who are at risk of entering the criminal justice system.

Successful applicants were being notified this week, while those who did not receive funding will receive support and guidance on how to continue to support children at risk. 

The goal of the fund is to help children vulnerable to being criminally exploited or drawn into anti-social behaviour and serious violence.

The fund will build capacity within the sport sector to support these children to embrace positive opportunities. Part of the programme will also involve training sport organisations to work effectively with youth justice services, police and other local agencies to better meet the needs of the most vulnerable children in their communities, and using sport to enhance positive outcomes for children in the context of youth crime. 

Investment will primarily be targeted at the ‘secondary cohort’ of children aged 10 to 17 across England and Wales. The secondary cohort broadly refers to children who could be considered to be at risk of entering the justice system due to challenging circumstances or additional vulnerabilities. This can include those at risk of school exclusion; those experiencing complex safeguarding issues; or those identified by the police as being vulnerable, or already involved in anti-social behaviour; as well as a targeted approach to children who are vulnerable as a result of the area where they live, i.e. those living in areas with high rates of youth crime or the bottom 20% deprivation, where children are at greater risk of committing crime or being a victim of crime.

Interventions will provide additional structure to support a pro-social approach and to try to avoid the potential for involvement in anti-social behaviour, violence or gang activity.

Further public announcements about the fund are planned for early 2023, with applicants being encouraged to support media activity during January and help raise awareness of the vital role they are playing in using sport to prevent youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

‘Reducing crime and anti-social behaviour’ is one of the key areas of the Coalition’s #OpenGoal framework which is aimed at demonstrating to policy-makers how the multiple returns on investment generated by sport for development – ranging from improving physical and mental wellbeing, to increasing employability and educational attainment – can help to generate public cost savings during the cost-of-living crisis.