More young people are out of work now than when Labour won power in 1997 by promising to cut youth unemployment, official figures obtained by The Times reveal.
There are now 37,000 more unemployed people aged 16 to 24 than in May 1997, with the total rising from 665,000 to 702,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The unemployment rate has risen to 14.5 per cent among young people, overtaking the 14.4 per cent rate Labour inherited from the Conservative Government.
The figures are acutely embarrassing for the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, who in 1997 described the youth unemployment he inherited as a “human tragedy”, “sickening” and “an economic disaster”.
Twenty youngsters a day are being diagnosed with conditions such as alcohol poisoning and behavioural disorders due to excessive drinking, according to NHS figures out today.
The statistics obtained by BBC1’s Panorama programme also show that in Cheshire and Merseyside alone, more than 10 under-18s per week are admitted because of drink abuse.
In the last five years, the number of under-18s being admitted to hospital with alcohol-related conditions has risen from 6,288 in 2000/1 to 7,579 in 2004/5, according to the NHS Information Centre.
Ian Forster of North West Ambulance Service said there had been a noticeable rise in the number of underage drinkers picked up in Liverpool. He said: “It’s not unusual for a child to have drunk a litre of vodka.
A survey by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) found that many professionals on teams set up to tackle tearaways had concerns about the Government’s flagship anti-social behaviour measure.The in-depth survey also found 49 per cent of under-18s breached their Asbos.
The report concluded: “High levels of breach had led some sentencers to question how much impact Asbos were having on the behaviour of individual young people.
“A considerable number of respondents alluded to the potential for the order to become ‘glamorous’.”
One magistrate told the YJB’s year-long research programme:
“It’s being used as a badge of honour.”
Parents and carers of young people handed the controversial orders said they were seen as a “diploma” and boosted “street cred”.
“Some of the friends are left out now because they’re not on an Asbo,” said the mother of three young men who were all on Asbos.
“I know a boy that’s hell-bent on getting an Asbo because he feels left out.”
Asbos were introduced by the Government in 1999.
They allow magistrates to impose conditions on a person’s behaviour in a bid to stop them acting in an anti-social way. Breaching the order can lead to jail.
But a district judge told researchers that youngsters who breached their orders were often not being properly punished.
“The danger is that you would increase the (prison) population enormously if we… enforced Asbos fully,” the judge said.
Youngsters in the UK are among the most badly behaved in Europe, a study by a think-tank has suggested.
On every indicator of bad behaviour – drugs, drink, violence, promiscuity – the UK was at or near the top, said the Institute for Public Policy Research.
The institute looked at the results of a number of studies of adolescents conducted in recent years.
The researchers believe the country’s record can be explained by a collapse in family and community life in the UK.