Page last updated at 08:43 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 09:43 UK

Black youths 'being left to die'

Dimitri Foskin
Dimitri Foskin was shot dead in Birmingham on Saturday night

Politicians are "leaving black youths to die" by cutting funding to community groups, an independent adviser to the Home Office has said.

Dr Derrick Campbell's comments follow the violent deaths of three young men within 24 hours in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and London.

Dr Campbell told the BBC that funds earmarked for community cohesion were not going to the right organisations.

The Home Office said it was committed to tackling gun and knife crime.

We have to ask the question whether there seems to be an acceptance that if another black youth is killed they are just another one that we don't have to worry about
Dr Derrick Campbell

Dr Campbell, chairman of the National Independent Advisory Group on Criminal Use of Firearms, which advises the Home Office and the security services, said some organisations which were successful in tackling such crime had suddenly had funding cut.

"And we have to ask the question whether there seems to be an acceptance that if another black youth is killed they are just another one that we don't have to worry about," he said.

Dr Campbell went on to say there was hard evidence from community groups in the Birmingham area that their funding was being cut - a situation which he said was reflected nationally.

He claims the government is failing to ensure local councils get the money to the appropriate groups.

'Serious questions'

"Black youths within this country have been left to die. And that's a very strong statement but it's a statement that seems to be borne out through evidence about black youths who seem to be at the top of the list when it comes to our youngsters being killed," he said.

"Now we're asking very serious questions of national government and local government as to why it seems that resources that have been allocated for community cohesion and other activities have not been going to those organisations."

It matters profoundly, and it matters in every single instance whether the individual is black or white
Home Office minister Tony McNulty

Dr Campbell spoke out after the fatal shooting of Dimitri Foskin, 24, in the Newtown area of Birmingham on Saturday night and the deaths of a 21-year-old man in Wolverhampton and an 18-year-old man in Walthamstow, London, in stabbings early on Sunday morning.

Home Office minister Tony McNulty rejected Dr Campbell's accusations.

"Frankly what Derrick says is an insult to black groups and other community groups up and down the country who are being funded by local and central government and work in this area on a daily and regular basis," he said.

"I do need to knock down the notion that somehow there is a national conspiracy of at best indifference, and at worst active policy, that says somehow the death of young black men on our streets doesn't matter.

"It matters profoundly and it matters in every single instance whether the individual is black or white," he added.

A Home Office spokesman said that in July the government had launched a 100m Youth Crime Action Plan which included enforcement and prevention measures as well as support for parents.


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