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Police confirm closure of OzBox scheme next year

Posted on 18th December 2014

A partnership boxing scheme aimed at young people in Derbyshire is to close.

OzBox has been running since 2003 as a partnership project funded jointly between Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire County Council, supported for the past three years by money allocated from the Big Lottery Fund.

It offers free boxing sessions to young people aged between 11 and 19. OzBox sessions take place at nine gyms across Derbyshire, as well as five mobile gyms.

However, a decision has been made to close the OzBox scheme on March 31 2015 due to the Big Lottery Fund money coming to an end on that date and the inability of the Constabulary and the County Council to fund the scheme in the future as a result of their own austerity measures.

A further bid for funding from the Big Lottery Fund to extend the scheme had been made but was unsuccessful and therefore the grant will run out at the end of next March.

Deputy Chief Constable Alan Goodwin said: “We are very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund and Derbyshire County Council for their support over the last three years.

“However, as their funding is coming to an end, the cost of financing the scheme would fall wholly to the Derbyshire Constabulary, which is simply not sustainable, given the unprecedented financial challenges we face. The reality of the situation is that we have to make £26m worth of savings over the next five years, on top of the millions we have had to save over previous years.

“It will mean a reduction in the region of 260 police officers and 150 police staff, and now more than ever we have to prioritise core policing across the county.

“Unfortunately, we are forced to make difficult decisions and in this case we simply cannot continue to fund the scheme.

An inventory of the equipment, vehicles and other assets currently used by OzBox is now being drawn up, pending a decision on what to do with it.  In order to bring about a controlled wind down of the scheme, it is intended that no further sessions will be held after 31st January 2015 so that all outstanding issues can be concluded by the time the money finally runs out in March.

Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles: “This is a stark reminder of the consequences of the government funding cuts.”

Councillor Kevin Gillott, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “The three year grant we agreed is coming to an end and our financial situation is poor – like that of our police colleagues.

“We’re facing devastating cuts of £157m to our budget by 2018.

“We’ll continue to work with county youngsters to guide them to our other services and make sure they still get opportunities to develop skills and take part in activities.”

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