HC Deb 16 February 1961 vol 634 cc1735-6
6. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking for the special protection of children in the light of the recent series of child murders.

Mr. Renton

My right hon. Friend is assured by the Commissioner of Police that all Metropolitan Police officers, particularly women officers, are on the alert to protect children as a normal part of their duty, and give special attention to places where children congregate. My right hon. Friend is advised that the police elsewhere exercise a similar vigilance.

Dr. Johnson

While thanking my hon. and learned Friend for his reply, may I ask him to look at this from a wider point of view only and ask his right hon. Friend to appoint a committee to consider how recent legislation has worked out—not only the Homicide Act, but also the Street Offences Act, in the manner referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) in his recent letter to The Times. Will he find a chairman for the committee with rather less whimsical ideas than Sir John Wolfenden?

Mr. Renton

It is right that I should have proper concern in this matter, but I remind my hon. Friend that, leaving aside cases in which parents were responsible for the deaths of their children, four child murders were reported in the three months up to the end of January. I am not quite sure what sort of inquiry my hon. Friend has in mind, bearing that factor in mind.

Miss Bacon

Will not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that, while one answer is more vigilance on the part of parents, the public and an enlarged police force, nevertheless the detailed manner in which some of these crimes are reported in the Press sometimes leads to imitative crimes?

Mr. Renton

That is a matter of surmise, but I think that there is a great deal in what the hon. Lady says.

Forward to