SHOCK cuts to the youth service are happening just when the city needs it most.

Charities today warn the most vulnerable youngsters in Brighton and Hove are at greater risk from gangs, drugs, and knives than in years.

One charity manager said new youth groups had been set up in the past month because antisocial behaviour was reaching a “crisis point”.

The warning comes on top of fears that a reduction of PCSOs on the beat is leading to a sharp rise in antisocial crime.

And it comes on top of news that the city’s Playbus, the mobile children’s play service, is also being scrapped to save cash.

Brighton and Hove Youth Collective has been rocked by the news that the city council is preparing to cut its £450,000 funding from April, which members warn will spell the end for many youth services, clubs and events and see some charities close.

More charities have spoken out against the proposed cuts following revelations on Monday that the council will cut youth services in the city by £800,000 in the 2017-18 budget.

The decision comes just three weeks after council executive director Pinaki Ghosal gave assurances to charities their funding was secure for the next three years. Charities had spent thousands of pounds preparing bids for a tender process launched just weeks ago for council funding as a result of cuts made in the sector from the 2016-17 budget.

Emma Jacquest, Tarner Community Project manager, said: “It is so incredibly frustrating when you are working closely with the community and can see that these services are needed more than ever.

“We seem to be picking up the pieces. We are stepping in where other services like the police are cutting back.

“If we pull our services out, what happens next really frightens me.”

Ben Glazebrook, of Impact Initiatives, said groups might be able to reach out to just a third of the youngsters they currently support.

He said: “The people we work with regarding health and wellbeing, the fear is they could have a massive impact on already overstretched mental health and social care services if we can’t support them.”

A Deans Youth Project spokeswoman said: “We work with around 50 young people where there is nothing else, This is an isolated area with no other provision at all. We all know what will happen if you take it away, antisocial behaviour will increase, underage drinking, teenage pregnancy.”

Councillor Tom Bewick, lead member for children’s services, said: “We will still be spending over £1 million on youth and adolescent services targeting the most vulnerable in the city so it’s just not correct that we are getting out of supporting young people altogether.”