At a crime summit in London on Saturday, prominent youth worker Junior Smart, who heads a gangs project run by St Giles Trust, warned that there is too little quality assurance within the sector.
Speaking afterwards to CYP Now, Smart said some youth workers are "perhaps only there because of the pay cheque and don't care about the clients". He said councils must work better to monitor the quality of services.
“It’s not just the voluntary sector [that is providing poor quality youth services], I’m talking about the statutory sector as well,” Smart said.
“Bad practice needs to be stamped out because it is the enemy within and it gives young people an excuse not to take the help that is offered. [Young people] are being let down by a number of different services."
Smart said that often councils have no connection with the frontline youth services they commission, placing them in a poor position to be able to identify whether they are successful or not.
"There are some really good services out there doing tremendous work, but [local authorities] aren't necessarily guided on what makes good practice."
He said bad practice within the field has “been long standing” because there has been no unified approach to commissioning and monitoring services.
His call comes as many councils across the country are rubber-stamping cuts to youth services to save money in the 2016/17 financial year beginning next month.
Last week Reading Council announced plans to cut £750,000 from its youth service budget, blaming central government funding reductions for the move.