HC Deb 24 November 1960 vol 630 cc1290-2
14. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for the use Department if, on the basis of figures supplied to him for his published statistics of crime, he will state the number of bank robberies in the latest convenient 12 month period; and what steps are being taken in the Metropolitan Police District to counter these robberies.

16. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action has been taken to impress upon the various banking authorities in the Metropolitan Police District the need to introduce efficient security measures, in view of the number of recent week-end bank robberies carried out in a leisurely and easy manner which serve as an encauraaement to further crime.

20. Commander Kerans

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Depart. ment whether, in view of the increase of robberies of branch banks, he will consult witia bank authorities with a view to appointing a committee to investigate bank security arrangements throughout the country in co-ordination with the police and other authorities.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The figures do not distinguish offences in banks from other offences. While the security of banks is primarily a matter for their proprietors, at the beginning of the year the Metropolitan Police took the initiative in advising banks on security and there is continuing co-operation with them on this topic. In the circumstances, I do not propose to set up a committee to investigate the matter.

Mr. Grimond

While acknowledging the excellent work done by the police in trying to prevent these robberies, does not the scale, not only of bank robberies but assaults on people carrying wages and post office robberies, now appear to be big business? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that there is a national plan to combat it, not only by the police but by employers, and will he now consider getting statistics showing the scale that these robberies have now reached?

Mr. Butler

I cannot interfere with the private arrangements of banks, but I am satisfied that, while this is primarily their affair, an initiative has been taken at any rate in the Metropolitan Police district, and I think that the situation is very much more in hand than it was.

Mr. Dodds

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many bank employees are deeply disturbed by the seemingly "couldn't-care-less" attitude of the bank authorities? Is he further aware that those employees feel that their interests cannot be properly looked after because the employers will not recognise the National Union of Bank Employees—which could seek to look after their interests—and that, since they have not anyone to look after them, they expect the Government to take some interest in their welfare in these matters?

Mr. Butler

We must be careful of the term "government", because I have merely referred to the Metropolitan Police. I am satisfied that closer co-operation is taking place and, while I cannot interfere with the affairs of the banks, I am satisfied that the managements now realise the danger.

Commander Kerans

Will not my right hon. Friend agree that in many cases branch bank premises are left vacant over the weekend, and sometimes longer, thereby giving direct access to the premises in those periods? Will he give an assurance that he will look into the matter very carefully from a security point of view, and for the security of personnel?

Mr. Butler

I hope that the publicity given to all these exchanges will have some effect on the premises and upon their occupants.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Although clearly the Home Secretary cannot interfere with private banks, will he agree that this kind of crime is now increasing at such a rate that it is a matter of public concern; and that, by the use of relatively simple security measures, such as alarm bells ringing in police stations, a great number of these robberies could be frustrated and stopped?

Mr. Butler

The right hon. Gentleman's intervention is perfectly reasonable, and I will draw that point and others raised to the attention of the authorities.

15. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will include, in future publications of statistics of crime, the total amount stolen from banks in the relevant period.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The form in which information about crimes known to the police is at present supplied to the Home Office does not provide information about the number of thefts or the amounts stolen from banks or any other particular types of institution. I intend to consider whether it is possible to obtain more detailed information about particular types of crime, but this is a complex question and investigations are likely to take a considerable time.

Mr. Grimond

While welcoming the Home Secretary's assurance that he is considering the matter, may I impress on him that any study of crime must rely on better statistics and also that the division between the Metropolitan Police and those in other parts of the country, when crime is now organised on a nation-wide basis, is doubtfully supported.

Mr. Butler

Yes; but I am satisfied that the close relationship between the various forces, and the new methods they have of getting in touch with one another, have greatly accelerated the machinery.