The long and ignorant neglect of youth work is at the heart of our crisis of violence on the streets.

We once had a respected youth service with youth officers to guide the transfer from school to the world of work. The wealthy know how important this is and pay a lot for schools where house masters and mistresses fill that role. Twenty-five years ago it was a bleak outlook for many young people: no place to meet friends or obtain information, and no trusted adult professional to help on leaving school.

In a rural area problems were compounded  by isolation, poverty and lack of transport.

The Teme Valley Youth Group began in a small way 25 years ago and had to find its own funds.

Local and central government help was timid.

There was a snobbish attitude to youth work and a general fear of teenagers.

Despite strong opposition the group flourished and managed to raise large sums to build a fine centre.

Continuation support failed and eventually closure followed.

The widespread failure of government, local and central, is a prime cause of youth crime and violence today.

It will take years to deal with the problem.

More police are not the answer and may make things worse.

Alan Laurie