Cutting funding for youth crime prevention work will risk an increase in offending, a powerful committee of MPs has warned.
The cost of any reduction in funding is "likely to outweigh any short-term savings", the Public Accounts Committee said.
The committee also expressed concerns about plans to axe the Youth Justice Board, warning that some of its achievements in tackling crime by young people could be jeopardised.
In its report on the youth justice system the cross-party committee praised the board for its "central role" in reducing offending.
The board is to be abolished as part of the Government's "bonfire of the quangos" but the report warned "there is a risk that some of the factors that made the board successful will be lost in transition".
The report continued: "The abolition of the board raises a question about how a national focus on reducing offending by young people and reducing the use of custody will be maintained."
Around 10% of the £800 million of the central and local government funding for tackling youth crime in 2009-10 was spent on prevention.
The report said: "Prevention work has had an impact on reducing the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system, but funding is being reduced.
"Cutting prevention funding now increases the risk of the unintended consequence that more crime could occur in the medium term, with the cost likely to outweigh any short term savings."
The MPs called on the board and the Ministry of Justice to encourage investment in prevention where reducing youth crime has been identified as a local priority.