GENERAL Election candidates for the Harwich and North Essex constituency believe the rise in anti-social behaviour within young people is due to “youth club funding cuts” and “a lack of trained youth workers”.

Peter Banks (Green) said in the past three years UK youth club funding has been cut, resulting in anti- social behaviour.

He said it must be addressed in both urban and rural areas to inspire and support the youth, so “they can be a developing part of our communities.”

Mr Banks added: “The opportunistic behaviour of county lines drug barons and the alarming media reports that young people are carrying knives for their own sense of safety, despite the dreadful stabbings of their peers, illustrates the desperate need for funding and reestablishment of after-school activities, including youth clubs.”

Mike Beckett (Lib Dem) emphasised young people must be equipped to express themselves effectively and encouraged to participate in the community life, and mentoring is one solution for this.

He said: “We need to train more youth workers and volunteers to work well with young people and build quality relationships.

“Mental health first aid, safe spaces and inter-generational activities are all needed.

“We need to be organised about addressing the impact of poverty on young people’s life experience, and work to close the opportunity gap between those from poorer families and their peers.”

Stephen Rice (Lab) said he would like to see youth services working together more efficiently to divert young people away from the pathways towards crime.

He said: “The Labour Party takes a humane view of society and if elected we will rebuild our youth services, guaranteeing young people’s access to youth workers.

“Anti-social behaviour is a complex issue with numerous components including poor education, cultural and financial poverty, mental and physical ill-health and good, old-fashioned boredom.”

Richard Browning-Smith (Ind) said young people along with drugs causing anti-social behaviour is of great concern to most people.

He said at least 50 per cent of people he has talked to said the loss of respect is down to parents not teaching their children to respect any form of authority, especially teachers.

He added: “Something needs to be done, like reintroducing youth clubs or a more extreme measure is to bring back National Service, as too many young people are hanging around on street corners doing nothing but causing grief to others.

“At least with the army they could be taught a trade and discipline.”

Sir Bernard Jenkin (Con) and Tony Francis (Ind) sang from the same hymn sheet, saying there is enough youth provision.

Mr Francis said: “We are still trotting out unhelpful, no interest youth schemes.

“Our sports club youth initiatives really work, and such provision is always packed out by demand, every football youth group is oversubscribed.

“But such provisions are not delinquent and recidivist offender-specific.

“Here is a much more complex demographic and this needs focused study and social research to be successfully catered for.

“I am determined to make a difference.”

Sir Bernard said: “There is a profusion of local groups for youth activity and support, but they depend on funding and outstanding volunteer leadership.

“Many of these groups are not oversubscribed, but we could always do with more.

“The Conservative manifesto commits £500 million to new youth clubs and services.”

The election is on December 12.