HC Deb 20 April 1961 vol 638 cc1371-2

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

22. Sir THOMAS MOORE (Ayr)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the result of his analysis of recent murders has now been completed; whether he is yet in a position to say whether there has been any appreciable increase in the number of sexual offences against young girls since the passing of the Street Offences Act; and how many deaths have resulted from such offences.

Sir T. Moore

This Question has been put down to rectify a stupid blunder I made last week.

Hon. Members

Which one?

Mr. R. A. Butler

The analysis of murders being carried out by the Home Office Research Unit is continuing, and I shall arrange for the results to be made public when the work is completed. Since the Street Offences Act was passed there have been five deaths of girls under 17 initially recorded by the police as murder which were committed in circumstances suggesting that the motive of homicide was probably of a sexual nature; in a corresponding period immediately before the Act there were seven such deaths. As regards sexual offences generally against women I cannot add to the reply I gave to a Question by my hon. Friend on 16th February, which showed that the number of these offences had not increased since the passing of the Street Offences Act.

Sir T. Moore

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that there is no connection between this apparent increase in sexual offences against children and young girls and the fact that men are now deprived of their normal access to satisfaction of their needs?

Mr. Butler

I am satisfied that in fact the figures show the opposite, namely, five since, in the comparative period, and seven before, in the comparative period. I do not attach particular importance to statistics, but if they show anything they show that there has been a decrease. With regard to the other observations of my hon. Friend, I would say that in my view the Act has been of great benefit, if only through example, and I believe that it has been widely recognised as such, at any rate in the Metropolis and other main centres.

Miss Bacon

Apart from sexual offences committed against young girls, will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether or not it is more difficult now for the police to keep track of young girls coming to London, particularly some ex-Borstal girls who on being set free may get into undesirable company?

Mr. Butler

This is a matter of opinion. I shall take it up with the police, particularly with the Metropolitan Police, for whom I am responsible, in view of the hon. Lady's question.