What’s the story?
Tower Hamlets Council has completed a review of the council’s youth services?
Sounds like the kind of thing a council would do. Routine check?
Far from it. This is one of the areas where the most serious abuses occurred under the regime of disgraced former mayor Lutfur Rahman.
Exactly, an investigation into irregularity and fraud between 2013 and 2015 found that “dubious and excessive” claims were made over hours worked; business interests not disclosed; the council credit card was maxed out; and many of the youth services provided had no youths attached to them or were offering just pool and Playstations.
Par for the course then?
Well, yes. But this was perhaps more serious than Mr Rahman pushing money to his pals. Many were engaged with young people “off the books” and without proper DBS checks over whether they had criminal records.
Yes, it is one of the few areas that the Met Police actually seem interested in pursuing, perhaps for obvious reasons that anything could have happened to the most vulnerable in society.
What does the new mayor John Biggs have to say about this?
“When I became Mayor I discovered a youth service in chaos as a result of poor management and the actions of a small number of individuals.
"The majority of our youth workers are honest, hard-working and dedicated to providing an excellent service but they were let down by a small number of their colleagues acting inappropriately for their own benefit. I am pleased we can now bring these matters into the open. For a range of legal reasons they have been shrouded too long."
So what’s he done about this?
“We now have an interim model in place for the youth service offering more and better quality activities for young people than previously. There have been no cuts to the service and we still have the second highest youth service budget in London, it’s just being spent properly now.”